- Nationwide campaign begins regional tour in Bedfordshire
- 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
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 nationwide campaign that comes to Bedfordshire this week.
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 the conflict zone.
The hard hitting campaign developed by UK community support group FAST (Families Against Stress and Trauma), reveals the pain and suffering felt by those family members who have lost a loved one as well as providing practical information and advice for families in need of help.
The founder, Saleha Jaffer, showcased the campaign film and spoke with senior police officers from the surrounding counties at a gathering in Bedfordshire today to highlight the importance of the issue and the devastating impact those who do travel have on their families back home. Her film features three families talking candidly of their experiences.
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.”
Community events and workshops showcasing the film are being conducted up and down the UK in an attempt to further reach out to families and help motivate them to take action. 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.
Nationwide it is estimated that around 500 Britons have travelled to Syria in order to fight, which includes a number of individuals from the Eastern Region. There are concerns that some have forged contacts with Islamist extremists, demonstrating that community efforts to prevent travel are now more relevant than ever. Luton alone has a Muslim population of 50,000, and many have voiced their condemnation of extremist groups such as ISIS, some joining the popular #notinmyname campaign.
Saleha Jaffer, founder of FAST, comments: “I am delighted to be here in Bedfordshire today. We hope that sharing our campaign with local authorities in Bedfordshire will assist them in their efforts to prevent young people from travelling to the region as well as providing support for families affected. We want families to have the confidence to reach out and seek help if they have concerns, before it is too late.”
Acting Inspector Gareth Coombs from Bedfordshire Police said: “We are very keen to support community projects and initiatives such as FAST, who are doing impressive work to raise awareness about the consequences of travel to conflict zones”