How can I help?

It may be nothing, but if something doesn’t feel right, the sooner you seek help the quicker we can support you.

Early community action is the key to helping people avoid the path to violent extremism. As a friend, family member, acquaintance, or community worker, you are best placed to identify when those around you may be going down a negative path.

It sounds so simple but sometimes a good ear is all it takes to help someone you care about. By listening without judgement, you can help someone feel accepted and find a sense of belonging, before they seek connection from groups that support violence.

By creating an environment where healthy discussion is encouraged and people feel comfortable to express their ideas, you can promote positive connection and divert someone away from the dangers of extremism.

One of the most effective ways to reduce occurrences of violent behaviour is to remain connected to people you care about, even when you disagree with their choices, or don’t understand their beliefs.

Below are some ways you can better connect with people you are concerned about.

  • Bring concerns out into the open: Aim to create an environment where healthy discussion is encouraged and people feel comfortable to express their ideas, in order to reduce the need for them to take their beliefs ‘underground’. You may find that you need to find new ways to encourage them to open up, and you may not connect with them on your first attempt. Don’t only talk about the behaviour that is bothering you. Keep discussing the everyday things you’ve always enjoyed chatting about together.

  • Help people have their say: Many of us have ideas about what changes we’d like to see in our society, but it can be hard to know how to turn these thoughts into positive action. If someone is advocating for social, political or ideological change, remind them there are positive ways to bring about change. Link them to people or organisations that can help them bring about change without the use of violence.

  • Model respectful debate in person and online: Listen to what the person has to say, but set boundaries about how you talk to each other. End the conversation if the situation becomes inflamed, but let them know you will be ready to talk again when everyone is calm. Likewise, demonstrate respectful online interactions.

  • Encourage critical thinking: Remind people that they are in control of what they watch or read, and that it is ok to question information. Your goal should not be to stop people from accessing content you don’t approve of – but rather to highlight different sources and perspectives, and have them critically examine the content they engage with.

  • Link them to support: Step Together’s helpline support workers can refer you to local support organisations or practitioners who can help address issues of concern for the person – it may be they could benefit from links to a local youth group, employment service, or a mental or physical health service.

If you’ve noticed a significant change in someone’s behaviour, reach out for help as soon as possible. Our Step Together helpline support workers can listen to your concerns and talk through possible next steps.

Advice and support

If you would like further advice and support on how best to help someone you care about, contact our Step Together helpline workers.

Last updated:

20 Oct 2023

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