As a leader, social worker, counsellor, or professional, what can you do?
In your line of work, you’re usually the one who is being asked for help, not the one asking for it. We are here to offer you assistance and support on what is a very difficult area to navigate.
We understand that balancing between addressing violent extremism and knowing what your obligations are to intervene, isn’t easy. Whilst we are not legal experts, our Step Together team has been trained to provide you with information and referrals. Please call the Step Together helpline or refer to our FAQs.
Positive role models and strong relationships are some of the best protections for vulnerable people. If you’re worried about someone you know who may be vulnerable to violent extremism, the best thing you can do is support them. This is a key principle of countering violent extremism (CVE) work.
If you’ve noticed a significant change in behaviour, or an interest in something unusual, or even violent, it can be worrying.
People challenging ideas and values is normal. It’s how we learn and grow. Having unusual, ‘radical’ or ‘extreme’ views does not mean that the person is a threat to themselves or others, but promoting violence as a means to achieve change is a concern. It can be hard to know what’s normal and what’s not.
That’s why we created this service. Step Together is a free, professional service where you can find information and support options.
Friends, family and acquaintances can often make the biggest difference in each other’s lives and are likely to notice changes in each other’s behaviour.
Everyone is different, so there’s no definitive checklist that can tell you someone is at risk, but below are some key signs to look out for. There are many reasons for changes in behaviour. Some of these are signs of a personal problem of some kind such as loneliness – if not political, they may indicate violent or suicidal tendencies that should be addressed. Our Step Together teams can help you identify behaviours that are concerning and recommend services that can help.
Please see our ‘additional services’ page for organisations that can help.
Signs that someone may be in trouble or distress:
- Loneliness, withdrawal or isolation
- Increased anger or frustration
- Feelings of helplessness or defeat
- Consuming violent content
- Advocating violence as a means to achieve change
What you can do to help
Little things that can make a difference:
- Notice early signs of worrying changes in behaviour.
- Stay connected to them – strong, loving relationships are the best protection for vulnerable people. If you’re worried about a loved one the most important thing you can do is support them.
- Keep talking – engage in open communication so your loved one feels supported and that they can come to you for anything. Even if you disagree with what they are saying, it’s important to maintain positive, open communication – listen, understand the person’s reasons for becoming involved.
- If you notice that something is bothering them, they are experiencing extreme loneliness, there is a change in the way they act or they are sad, angry or unhappy, ask if they are okay and really listen to what they have to say. Sometimes, having a good friend or someone to talk to helps, and we feel better.
- Take an interest in their online habits – being secretive doesn’t necessarily mean they are accessing violent extremist material, but downloading and sharing content that advocates violence to achieve change is concerning.
- Make an effort to engage in their interests and be aware of friends or the groups they’re involved with.
- Discuss your concerns and options with a trusted colleague.
- Identify sources of support for the person, for example through their school.
Call the Step Together helpline between 7am-9pm, every day.
The Step Together helpline and online service is modeled on countering violent extremism (CVE) principles and is specially designed to allow you to ask questions and find information. It’s an independent place, not connected to police or security services that offers free advice and information that can help you work out your options and the best actions to take in your situation.