Youngsters hear the horrors of extremism in awareness event at Portsmouth College

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YOUNGSTERS were given a hard-hitting talk by survivors of terrorist attacks on the dangers of extremism to stop its spread in communities.

Students at Portsmouth College came together for the first-ever Extremely Together event.

Portsmouth College students, staff, visitors and speakers take the Extremely Together pledge (Credit: Dan Pickles)

Portsmouth College students, staff, visitors and speakers take the Extremely Together pledge (Credit: Dan Pickles)

They learnt first hand from those affected by barbaric acts in the past and took part in workshops getting them to think about how to spot danger signs.

The awareness drive was attended by 100 teenagers all looking to learn more about how to avoid extremism in all forms on the internet.

The initiative was led by Bjørn Ihler, who survived the mass shooting that took place in Utøya, Norway, in 2011, and Fatima Zaman, who was near the Aldgate explosion during the London 7/7 bombings in 2005.

They both relived their experiences of the horrific tragedies.

We feel that it is so important that people of this age group are made aware of the dangers of radicalism.

Simon Barrable

Bjørn said although he went through a big ordeal on the night of the Norway attacks, where 77 people died in Oslo and Utøya, he wanted to use his experiences positively to stop the spread of extremism in global communities.

He said: ‘I think everyone should tackle this issue in some sort of way, and this is a great way of being able to encourage it.’

Organised by Unloc UK, it was the first of its kind in the country.

The group are looking to host them across the country.

Hayden Taylor, managing director of Unloc, said: ‘The event is all about giving young people a chance to explore extremism and getting the message out.

‘Young people have woken up and are interested in this activism.’

Simon Barrable, deputy principle of Portsmouth College, said the college works actively with all students to highlight the dangers of extremism.

Mr Barrable said: ‘We feel that it is so important that people of this age group are made aware of the dangers of radicalism.

‘We treat it as a safeguarding issue, and young people need to be guarded against these threats.

He added: ‘The event was hugely successful.

‘The people who spoke made extremism real and really brought it home to the students.

‘When Bjørn was speaking, the students were completely overawed by what he had experienced and then that reflected on them when they were taking part in the workshops afterwards.

‘It is vital we get the message across to them.’

Max Vine said he found the experience to be very useful.

The 17-year-old said: ‘It really brought home the challenges that we face today in the world and in our local communities.’