On 11-12th November 2019, Maisie Cook, UK Programme Officer, travelled to Manchester, Bradford and Dewsbury to meet with various community members to discuss some of the challenges facing British Muslim communities and carry out a number of activities.

Throughout the meetings communities referenced Islamophobia as a key challenge that Muslim communities are currently facing, as well as unemployment, substance abuse, gang violence, and lack of representation in the political system. The Prevent strategy was also highlighted as a concern. Those Forward Thinking spoke with, however, drew attention to the work that they are doing to address these issues. Nevertheless, it was highlighted that the capacity of many community organisations to address these challenges is constrained by their limited resources and some felt that the government should be doing more to tackle these concerns.

Forward Thinking were able to update the community on recent developments as part of the UK programme, including the launch for applications for the ‘Pathways into Politics’ programme which provides an opportunity for 18-30 year old Muslims from Huddersfield, Batley, Dewsbury, Manchester, Bradford and Bolton to develop political literacy, leadership and communication skills and to learn from political leaders from a range of backgrounds.

Forward Thinking also spoke with communities about developments with their work assisting the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) with their community engagement. As part of this, Maisie attended the CPS ‘Community Conversations’ meeting in the North West. ‘Community Conversations’ is an initiative which seeks to link senior crown prosecutors with British Muslim communities in order to identify shared challenges and seek to address these. Members of the CPS Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division (SCCTD) attended this meeting at community request and were able to shed light on the prosecution procedure for cases which their department are responsible for.