On 24-25th February 2020 Maisie Cook, UK Programme Officer and Alice Copland, UK Programme Intern, travelled to Bradford and Manchester for a series of bilateral meetings with key community contacts. These discussions were highly productive and allowed Forward Thinking to receive an update on recent developments in the area.

Conversations centred around the impact of counterterrorism legislation on diverse Muslim communities and the current situation regarding the ongoing Independent Review of Prevent. Throughout discussions it was clear that there is still a desire among communities to engage with and influence the Prevent Review, however there was distinct uncertainty about the way in which this could take place given that there is currently no Reviewer since Lord Carlile was removed from post, as well as the current timetable for completion of the Review. Issues relating to the criminal justice system were also raised; the significance of hate crime for communities and prosecution of such crimes were of particular importance.

Forward Thinking were also able to connect with some ‘Pathways into Politics’ participants who recently completed a leadership programme in London. This was a two-day event hosted by Forward Thinking for 18-30-year-old individuals from the North West and Yorkshire that focused on political literacy and leadership development. By speaking with participants, Maisie and Alice were able to gain further feedback from the programme and better understand how participants would like to be involved with Forward Thinking in the future. There was discussion of hosting a follow-up event in the North, of possible internship and mentoring opportunities and of becoming involved in other elements of Forward Thinking’s work in the UK. During the trip Maisie and Alice also met with possible mentors to pair up with participants according to their skills and interests.