A SCHEME aimed at helping mothers protect their children against radicalisation and grooming has ended its inaugural year with an awards ceremony.

Mothers Against Radicalisation has been run by Bradford-based organisation Empowering Minds in partnership with Bradford Council and West Yorkshire Police.

It was funded by the Council through the Home Office Prevent programme.

Sofia Mahmood, Founder and Director at Empowering Minds, said: “Mothers Against Radicalisation provides mothers with a safe space to be able to hold difficult conversations without feeling judged or intimidated.

“Extremists don’t come from one religion or background and this course exemplified that, empowering individuals to stand up to radicalisation and grooming in all its forms.

“We hope that the open and encouraging atmosphere has left mothers who took part feeling equipped and supported in safeguarding their children.”

The four-week training course was designed to educate and empower mothers to stand up to the dangers of their children being led into extremist behaviour.

Around 80 participants from six different areas of the district were exposed to both Islamist and Far Right extremist narratives, exploring what makes young people vulnerable and how best to protect them.

Louise Horrell, from Shipley, was one of the mums who joined the programme.

"I signed up because I am doing an education degree and wanted to learn more about the perception of radicalisation.

"I did learn a lot. People think of radicalisation being among Asians but it affects everyone. There is white extremism for a start.

"Just because I am white with two boys doesn't mean that radicalisation and grooming can not affect us. The scheme has brought a lot of people together across all cultures. We look out for one another and have become more aware of one another and feel we can ask questions without any prejudice."

Yasmid Majid, from West Bowling added: "I have six children and I am a single parent. It has taught me to be aware of what children can be exposed to."

Shabana Butt, from Leeds added: "I have four children between the ages of 23 and nine. I have learned what to look out for, particularly with risks of grooming on social media and the internet. I have always questioned my children and answered their questions honestly but this scheme has helped me focus on wider issues and be aware of what may be around us."

Coun Abdul Jabar, Bradford Council Executive Member for Neighbourhoods and Community Safety, said: “Mothers are in a unique position to know what is going on in their children’s lives and this training course will give them an extra insight to help protect them against malign influences from various sources, including the internet.

“In some situations, close family members can feel helpless in the face of radicalisation so we hope this course has given mothers the skills they need to keep their children safe.”

Police Inspector Kevin Taylor said: “Bradford District Police are proud to have been associated with Empowering Minds and to have worked closely with Sophia Mahmood to help deliver this project.

“PC Fiz Ahmed from the Stronger Communities team supported the project by delivering inputs on the general role of the Police and how to report a crime. This innovative course brings together women from all sections of the community and offers a safe space to learn and grow together.”

Ms Mahmood said more funding had been applied for to the Home Office to build on the scheme using the mums as ambassadors across the district.