‘Building a Stronger Britain Together’ programme “boosts community resilience”

Independent evaluation has found that people have an increased willingness to challenge extremist views after taking part in the Government’s ‘Building a Stronger Britain Together’ (BSBT) programme. The BSBT Progress Report, produced by Ipsos Mori, was commissioned to assess the impact of the BSBT programme activity against key outcomes, understand the effectiveness of processes involved in delivering the BSBT and establish the successes and challenges of delivery. According to the report, 98% of organisations that received BSBT funding and completed their projects said they would not have been able to deliver the project at all, or in the same way, without these funds.

The programme has succeeded in reaching an estimated 228,670 individuals in communities across England and Wales. Of those who participated in BSBT activity, there are positive shifts in the attitudes which contribute towards individual resilience to extremism, according to the report.

For example, following a BSBT communications campaign in Newcastle designed to promote diversity and tolerance, 68% of young people surveyed said they felt encouraged to speak out against someone with negative views.

Launched as part of the Home Office’s Counter-Extremism Strategy, the programme has provided 253 projects across England and Wales with £8.8 million worth of grant funding.

Baroness Williams, the Minister for Countering Extremism, said: “I have seen first-hand the vital work our BSBT network has done at the grassroots level to ensure communities are resilient to extremists who want to spread hatred. The innovative scheme is the first of its kind and has allowed us and local communities to quickly react to the evolving threat of extremism and tackle those who seek to destroy the core values that make this a great country.”

The progress report also found one of the key reasons for the success of projects so far has been the emphasis on local engagement. This has seen a wide range of projects funded, from anti-hate crime campaigns in England and Wales to tackling local far right extremism challenges.

Network of local co-ordinators

BSBT has enabled the creation of a network of up to 40 local community co-ordinators who work to counter extremism risks in their local area. The progress report demonstrates these co-ordinators help to facilitate networking and sharing of Best Practice on how to tackle extremism, while also providing support to groups in broadening their understanding of what counter extremism activity involves.

In addition to individual grant funding for projects, the programme has provided in-kind communications support to organisations, improving their organisational communications capabilities, and particularly so with their use of social media and helping to amplify their positive messages.

The Government’s current Counter-Extremism Strategy was published in October 2015: the first of its kind in the world to recognise promotion of harmful extremist views as issues outside of their role in encouraging terrorism.

The Counter-Extremism Strategy seeks to tackle those extremist groups and individuals who promote harmful ideologies, challenge what they say and do and strengthen communities such that they can better resist extremists.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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