Charity Awards 2024

Active Change Foundation

Tackling extremism by teaching young people leadership skills

In 2003, Hanif Qadir witnessed rising tensions in the Walthamstow area of London – an increase in violent street crime and extremist behaviour – and worried about the impact it would have on young people growing up in the area. He resolved to take action to help.

He formed the Active Change Foundation, which launched the Young Leaders Programme, intended to teach young people the skills and knowledge to help them identify and extinguish conflicts and radical behaviours.

Young people are recruited via assemblies at their schools, and are trained in public speaking, conflict resolution and critical thinking, as well as learning about the process of radicalisation. They are also encouraged to identify a cause they feel passionate about and helped to develop skills to effect change.
The training takes place over six months, at a cost of around £1,000 per young person, including workshops, a residential programme and one-to-one support from ACF staff.

Since its launch in 2012 around 400 youngsters aged 16-18 have been through the programme, and both qualitative and quantitative data suggests that it is having a positive impact on the individuals involved.
Since its pilot in east London six years ago the charity has rolled out the programme into nine areas – four London boroughs, as well as Slough, Cardiff, Crawley, Brighton and Birmingham. It has kept costs low by developing a wide network of volunteers, and has hired a fundraiser to diversify its income streams beyond its core local authority/Home Office funding.

Charity Awards judge Ruth Ruderham, fundraising director at Prince’s Trust International, said: “This is really difficult work and urgently needed at the moment.” CAF chief executive John Low added: “It’s a very hard issue and they’re doing it well.”

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