FAST – Families Against Stress and Trauma

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Established in 2007, FAST is a UK based organisation that provides support to vulnerable families and individuals. The pain and distress caused by those travelling to Syria, Iraq and areas of conflict is hard to describe, thus why the ‘Family Matters’ campaign was created.

In July 2014 FAST was supported by the Home Office for the campaign to be rolled out Nationwide.

At FAST families do matter and they can make a difference. Families are torn apart when young people or loved ones travel to areas of conflict. Families make a difference because they have the power to reach out and stop this. All families should feel empowered to reach out if they are worried that a loved one may be thinking of travelling.

The Families Matter campaign have made a short film featuring 3 people who talk openly about the impact that a family member travelling to a conflict zone has had on them and their family. They each speak out about the pain and anguish they felt when their loved-one left the UK.

To date, nine FAST focus groups have been held in conjunction with Merseyside Police and Liverpool City Council for women and children, which were received well by the communities, each asking for further ‘inputs’.

Workshop Nationalities include Arabic, British-Arabic, Somali, Bangladesh, Sri Lankan, Sudanese, Pakistan, Indian, British-Yemen, Yemen, Iraqi, and Iranian. Focus groups are to be ‘rolled out’ further in the community with the first one being with Somali Men’s group in April 2015.

Merseyside welcomed Saleha Jaffer (founder of FAST) at one of the Focus groups held by the Liverpool Arabic Centre. Saleha has been attending events Nationwide since July 2014 and she was overwhelmed by the ‘response’ from the women of Merseyside communities, so much so she intends to return to Merseyside for future events;

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“The Families Matter campaign tour aims to highlight the importance of the issue of radicalisation and we hope that today we provided helpful practical advice to families concerned about a loved one.”

Speaking in the film, Helen, whose son went to Syria said: “It was just anguish and fear and living a constant life of horror. You feel guilty if you smile because you don’t know if they are dead or alive.”

Saleha Jaffer, added: “Enough is enough. We can no longer sit by and watch as children from across the country are stolen from families by the lies and false promises made by extremists.

“As parents it is important that we take responsibility and play our part in stopping children travelling to Iraq or Syria, which is in most cases a one-way ticket, to join perpetrators of the most evil and heinous crimes.

Jihadbrides “It is vital that we understand the risks our children face and are able to engage with them in order to have a frank and honest two-way conversation about this complicated subject.

“Today’s event provided an open forum for families to discuss this difficult issue, raise concerns and receive practical advice. I hope that this nationwide Families Matter tour means parents feel less alone, less uncertain and more informed and empowered to do all they can to save their children before it is too late.”

To find out more about FAST and what they do, visit www.familiesmatter.org.uk

You can also email: enquiries.fast.uk@gmail.com

Alternatively contact the Merseyside PREVENT team on 0151 777 8311 or by emailing prevent@merseyside.police.uk