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FAST Press Release

PRESS RELEASE

BRITISH MUSLIM FAMILIES URGED TO HELP STOP LOVED ONES TRAVELLING TO IRAQ AND SYRIA

  • Launch event being attended today by Home Secretary Theresa May MP
  • Campaign features exclusive short film telling the stories of three families whose lives were ripped apart by a relative who has travelled to a conflict zone

London, 21st July 2014. British Muslim families across the UK are being urged to take action if they suspect a loved one might be planning to travel to Iraq or Syria in a new nationwide campaign launching today.

The campaign, called Families Matter, highlights the power families have to make a difference by reaching out to seek help if they suspect a family member might be planning on travelling to a conflict zone.

The hard hitting campaign, which has been developed by UK community support group FAST (Families Against Stress and Trauma) reveals the trauma, pain and suffering felt by those family members who have lost a loved one to a conflict zone as well as provides practical information and advice for families in need of help.

The launch, taking place in central London today, was attended by Home Secretary, Theresa May MP, to highlight the importance of the issue and the devastating impact those who do travel have on their families back home in the UK.

Commenting on the day of the launch, the Home Secretary Theresa May MP, said: “This campaign addresses one of the most significant issues facing communities up and down Britain – the extremely damaging effect of young people choosing to travel to Syria and now Iraq. Whilst many may be motivated by a desire to help the country, the result and impact on these people, their families and often on the communities they are trying to support is very destructive indeed.”

The campaign features a short film in which three families talk candidly of the devastating impact it has had on their lives since discovering a loved one has travelled to Iraq or Syria.

The film is being supported by a nationwide poster campaign as well as leaflets drawing attention to the various specialist support services families can turn to for help.

Saleha Jaffer, founder of FAST, comments: “It is hard to properly convey the anguish of those left behind, which is why we decided to let the families speak for themselves. Families matter because they are torn apart by those that choose to travel but they have the power to make a real difference. We hope this campaign gives family members the confidence to reach out and the reassurance that we are here to help.”

Speaking in the film, Helen, whose son went to Syria says: “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.” 

Ahmed who agreed to be in the film after his sons recently appeared in a jihadist video urging British Muslims to join them in arms says: “[Everyday] I think; am I going to see them alive again? Maybe we won’t even see the coffin – we’ll just see on the news they’re dead.”

Jaffer comments: “Everyone has a choice and there are many ways that families can make a big difference. Above all, it starts with taking action – talk to a friend, family member or come to specialist organisation like FAST if you suspect someone might be thinking of travelling.”

Local community events and workshops, which are being run by highly trained volunteers, are also being conducted by FAST in an attempt to further reach out to families and help motivate them to take action.

To watch the video or find out more about the Families Matter campaign visit:

www.familiesmatter.org.uk

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For more information, images or to interview a spokesperson at FAST please contact press.fast.uk@gmail.com / 07711-000-836

NOTES TO EDITORS:

FAST (Families Against Stress and Trauma) is a UK-based organisation, established in 2007, providing support within communities for vulnerable individuals and families.