Between 9-11th November 2021, Forward Thinking held meetings with community representatives and Establishment figures in Batley, Bradford, Dewsbury, and Manchester.

Meetings were an opportunity to reconnect with key contacts in our network and hear updates on a range of issues. Islamophobia and racism remain a key concern for communities in the North West and Yorkshire. The Independent Review of Prevent was also a key focus of discussions, and we were able to provide updates on our work in this area.

Community representatives underlined the frustration that is felt by many due to ongoing engagement with some Establishment representatives resulting in little practical change and appearing to be a ‘tick-box’ exercise. Trust will be established if community representatives feel as though their concerns are genuinely understood and acted upon accordingly.

The importance of engaging with young British Muslims was also emphasised throughout discussions, particularly ensuring that the insights of young people are communicated directly to relevant decision makers and opportunities for development and training developed. On Wednesday 10 November we convened a roundtable with participants in our Pathways into Politics programme to discuss the barriers and opportunities for engagement in politics and public life, and to explore how Forward Thinking could support the group in the future.