The ‘Think’ project is the brainchild of Swansea-based youth organisation the Ethnic Youth Support Team (EYST) and actually sets out to have those ‘dangerous conversations’ with young people about race, immigration, asylum, and extremism – and through these conversations helps young people to think for themselves.
In the wake of the European elections, the success of UKIP, and increasing support for far-right groups across Europe, this has never been more pertinent, as recognised in recent national publicity for the Project (https://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/may/27/welsh-youngsters-rethink-racism-think-project)
‘In the past, we have been content to just denounce these extreme views as ‘ignorant’ and ‘racist,’’ say leading experts Professor Ted Cantle (ICoCo; author of the Government’s report in to the 2001 northern riots) and Professor Paul Thomas (University of Huddersfield), who have authored a report on the project: ‘Now, for the first time, we know we can challenge extreme views through the direct engagement pioneered by EYST. All local areas need to learn from this success – and help young people counter the appeal of racist ideology and bigotry’.
The Think Project team will be sharing their approach with local policy-makers and youth practitioners in a seminar at the University of Huddersfield on 17th June 2014.
Speaking about the project, the University of Huddersfield’s Professor of Youth and Policy, Paul Thomas said: “We need to encourage young people away from extremism if we are to ensure a cohesive future for our society. The Think Project with its clear focus on young people represents a fresh approach which recognizes their grievances but also helps them to understand the reality rather than the rhetoric around asylum and immigration”
The project has been supported to date by the Welsh Government and the Big Lottery Innovation Fund, but it’s potential to be taken further and to play a key role in how the UK responds to the growth of support for far right ideas has been identified.