A 16-year-old newly-arrived student in east London is taking the lead on a project to help counter radicalisation among teenagers.
Julia Hossain is hosting seminars and giving presentations to large audiences. She was selected to take part in the Tower Hamlets Young Leaders Programme, which shows teenagers how to explore causes they feel passionate about, through workshops and community events. The aim is to turn youngsters into the community leaders of tomorrow by teaching leadership skills, crisis management and developing their critical thinking. Julia has chosen to work on Prevent, the government strategy to counter radicalisation and terrorism, during her seven months on the programme.
“We need to raise awareness about terrorism and radicalisation in order to combat it,” she says. “Vulnerable people all over the world are being targeted and it will continue if we aren’t educated and don’t stand up to it.”
Julia felt radicalisation was an important issue to tackle and gave her first conference speech to an audience of 100 influential people from education, local government, police and community groups.
“My whole body was shaking when I entered the room,” she admitted. “But once I started, I began to feel more comfortable. “I really felt like I had achieved something after I’d finished. Hopefully my talks can help to raise awareness”.
Julia, who was born in Bangladesh, emigrated to Italy with her family when she was just six, then arrived in London last year at the age of 15.
The live now in Poplar, where she is a student in the New Arrivals programme at Tower Hamlets College, tailored for teenagers aged 14 to 16.
Julia has developed her confidence after encouragement by her course mentors at the college to give presentations to audiences, aware that her work can have “a positive effect” on the community.
The Young Leaders Programme has helped youngsters like Julia, who was once extremely shy and reticent to voice her opinions.
The programme has taught her to be a peer mentor with the capacity to train other youngsters and act as a voice in the community with her presentations and leading seminars