Middlesbrough FC and the American embassy are the latest organisations to enlist the help of a Teesside social enterprise which works to prevent racism and tackle radicalisation.
Recent events including the rise of ISIS in the Middle East and the far-right group Pegida in Europe, as well as the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris and the murders in Chapel Hill, USA, prove that the need for such efforts to succeed is as important as ever.
Media Cultured CIC was set up by Teesside University graduate Amjid Khazir, with the help of a DigitalCity Fellowship, to promote community cohesion and train educators to look out for the signs of radicalisation.
Amjid, who lost a family member after what police believe was a racially motivated attack, has created a means of promoting integration and inclusion that has been so successful that he is being sponsored by Middlesbrough FC to deliver his training sessions at schools across the region after the club itself adopted the revolutionary ‘Identity and Integration’ workshops.
He was also invited by the American embassy to tour the United States for three weeks speaking to delegates at cities including New York, Washington, Colorado, Minneapolis, Santa Fe and Miami.
Amjid has now been given a Scale & Grow Award from the UnLtd SEE Change programme, a charity fund for social entrepreneurs administered by Teesside University, to develop new resources and expand his ground breaking community interest company.
Since founding his company in 2012, Amjid has used social and digital media to promote positive Muslim role models and counteract the message of religious extremists and the far-right.
He delivers ‘train the trainer’ sessions to schools, colleges, workplaces and other institutions to challenge misconceptions that can lead to social unrest.
His company licenses media to be used as teaching aids along with education activities to tackle racism and prejudice.
His work has been praised at the highest level by Government ministers, including terrorism expert Lord Carlile of Berriew, who called for the counter extremism measures used by Media Cultured to be implemented across the UK.
Middlesbrough FC also asked Amjid to deliver his training package to senior managers and were so impressed that the football club, together with Cleveland Police, agreed to sponsor Amjid to work in 16 schools across the region.
Amjid said: “We’re now hoping to deliver our work through more football clubs across the country and find ways to tackle social discord and improve integration.
“There’s still a very long way to go, but we’re really beginning to make a mark and get our ideas noticed locally, nationally and internationally.”
Boro’s chief operating officer Mark Ellis said: “We have appointed Media Cultured to deliver its social inclusion programmes as we are committed to increasing and improving the cultural awareness of our staff.
“We’ve a large multicultural population in the Teesside area but that isn’t reflected in our supporter base and that is something we need to change.”
Michael Ryding, Director of DigitalCity, added: “It’s fantastic that Amjid’s approach, of using digital media to help teachers tackle radicalisation, has become such a powerful way of promoting tolerance and cohesion within communities.
“We hope that the grant from Teesside University’s UnLtd fund will help him grow his social enterprise even further.”