Families Against Stress and Trauma

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This article is part of the Counter-Terrorism Portal project of Spinwatch.

FAST (Families Against Stress and Trauma) describes itself as an 'independent' 'UK based organisation providing support to vulnerable families and individuals', designed to discourage young people from travelling to Syria, Iraq or being radicalised. [1] The organisation was set up in 2007 [2], but registered at Companies House in May 2009 [3].

The organisation's website states it receives campaign funding from a range of sources, including the Home Office. [2]

'PREVENT' funding

FAST says to use 'professionally trained staff' to provide help and advice to 'vulnerable families and individuals'. The type of help it provides includes 'one to one discussions', group sessions and meetings with other trained professionals, including psychologists'. [4]

FAST hosts on its website a number of campaigning and informational videos, predominantly on the effects and signs of radicalisation. [5] A number of these videos, including those part of FAST's 2014 'Families Matter' campaign, were produced by Breakthrough Media Network [6]. The campaign included a campaign film, website, educational resources, series of workshops and PR activity, and was publicly endorsed by former home secretary Theresa May. [7]

An article in The Guardian in May 2016 revealed that Breakthrough Media is contracted by the Research, Information and Communications Unit (RICU), the Home Office's propaganda arm. As part of the government's PREVENT counter-radicalisation programme, Breakthrough Media receives funding from the Home Office to produce digital material (films, Facebook profiles, websites etc) in order to 'influence online conversations by being embedded within target communities via a network of moderate organisations that are supportive of it’s [sic] goals'. These materials are then 'hosted' by civil society groups. [8]

The relationship with Breakthrough Media raises questions about the independence of FAST.

Product of the Home Office

An internal document by the Office of Security and Counter Terrorism (OSCT), dated March 2015, was uncovered by Powerbase in 2016 (Prevent Strategy - Local Delivery Best Practice Catalogue) listed FAST as part of the government's 'national counter narrative' strategy, appearing to acknowledge the organisation is part of a covert propaganda strategy and directed by the Home Office’s strategic communications agency.

The document indicates the 'Families Matter' campaign was a 'RICU' product', 'led and developed' by FAST but 'supported by [...] PR and online activity'. On its website FAST gives a 'guarantee that everything that is discussed in groups, or individual sessions is 100% confidential.' Given its connection with the OSCT, legitimate questions might be raised about the reliability of the claims that everything is confidential.

In a 2015 inquiry by the Home Affairs Committee on 'countering extremism', FAST director Saleha-Begum Jaffer stated:

'From 2007, for three years, we received funding from the Home Office, OSCT funding, but now we do not get it. But we do work very closely with the Home Office producing lots of campaign films.' [9]

Back in 2011/2 in an apparent allusion to the covert relationship between RICU and Muslim civil society groups, then home secretary Theresa May stated in evidence to the intelligence and Security Committee:

'Often it is more effective to be working through groups that are recognised as having a voice and having an impact with that voice, rather than it being seen to be government trying to give a message.' [10]

People

Jaffer is registered at Companies House as a former 'Ambassador for Peace' and director of the Universal Peace Foundation UK (UPF), the UK branch of the Unification Church (popularly known as the 'Moonies'). [11] She began this role in June 2008 and resigned in June 2013, the year before it is reported the RICU started funding Breakthrough Media to produce campaign videos for FAST.

In April 2016, Jaffer was elected as the mayor of Lambeth. She previously served as deputy mayor, and has been a Labour member of Lambeth council since 2014. [12] In her 2014 register of interest declaration for Lambeth council, she was listed as a 'vocational employee' at the Office of Security and Counter-Terrorism (OSCT). Under the same section in her 2015 councillor's declaration, her previous employment is redacted as 'sensitive information, not published at Councillor's request'. [13] It is unclear whether there was any overlap in the Jaffer's involvement with Inspire, Lambeth Council and the OSCT, as well as what was the nature of Jaffer's vocational employment.

Former

Both Fortune and Razvi have associations with the Unification Church, set up through UPF (of which Jaffer was the director): Fortune helps to run the Unification community based in South London [14], and Razvi has spoken at a UPF event on 'countering secularism'. [15]

Timeline of events

2007

  • FAST is founded by Saleha-Begum Jaffer, and begins to receive direct funding from the Home Office. [2]

2008

2009

  • May: FAST is registered at Companies House. [3]
  • July: Cecilie Fortune is hired as a company director.
  • August: Fouzia Naz Razvi is hired as a company director.
  • September: Anees Fatima Ayub and Margaret Calista Jarrett are appointed as company directors.

2010

  • The Home Office allegedly stops directly funding FAST. [16]
  • March: Smarajit Roy is hired as a company director.

2011

  • September: Fouzia Naz Razvi resigns.

2013

2014

  • May: Jaffer becomes a Labour member of Lambeth council. Under her 2014 councillor’s register of interests, she is listed as a 'vocational employee' at the (OSCT).
  • July: FAST launches its ‘Families Matter’ campaign, supported by former Home Secretary Theresa May [7]. The campaign includes a campaign film, website and educational resources produced by Breakthrough Media [6], as well as a series of workshops and PR activity.

2015

  • August: The Home Affairs committee launches an inquiry into ‘extremism in Britain’. [17]
  • September: Cecilie Fortune resigns.

2016

  • An internal government document dated March 2015 is uncovered by Powerbase appearing to acknowledge that FAST is part of a covert propaganda strategy directed by the Home Office, identifying its 2014 campaign as a ‘product of the RICU’.
  • February: Saleha-Begum Jaffer gives oral evidence to the Home Affairs committee for the ‘Countering extremism’ inquiry. Jaffer states that while FAST stopped the receiving direct funding from the government, it continued to ‘work very closely with the Home Office’.
  • April: Jaffer is elected the mayor of Lambeth.
  • May: A report in The Guardian reveals that Breakthrough Media is contracted by the RICU to produce digital materials for the government's PREVENT counter-radicalisation programme, which are then ‘hosted’ by civil society groups supportive of its goals. [18]

Contact details

  • Address:
Silverstone & Co, First Floor,
9 Tabernacle Court, 16-28 Tabernacle Street,
London, England,
EC2A 4DD

Resources

Notes

  1. FAST Home page, FAST website, accessed 6 January 2017.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 About us, FAST website, accessed 16 January 2017.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Fast London UK Ltd, Companies House, accessed 13 February 2017.
  4. FAST - Families Against Stress and Trauma, Luton Council website, accessed 13 February 2017.
  5. FAST Families Against Stress and Trauma, YouTube, accessed 16 January 2017.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Our work, Breakthrough Media website, accessed 16 January 2017.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Home Secretary supports launch of ‘Families Matter’ campaign, GOV.uk, 21 July 2014, accessed 5 January 2017.
  8. Ian Cobain, Alice Ross, Rob Evans and Mona Mahmood, Inside Ricu, the shadowy propaganda unit inspired by the cold war, The Guardian, 2 May 2016, accessed 16 January 2017.
  9. Oral evidence: Countering extremism, HC 428, Parliament.uk, 2 February 2016, accessed 16 January 2017.
  10. Intelligence and security committee annual report 2011-2012, fas.org, accessed 16 January 2017.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Saleha-Begum Jaffer, Companies House, accessed 16 January 2017.
  12. Telangana woman elected as mayor of UK town, Deccan Chronicle, 29 April 2016, accessed 13 February 2017.
  13. Register of interests | Mayor Saleha Jaffer, Lambeth Council website, accessed 13 February 2017.
  14. Unification Movement | South London, Unification Movement, accessed 13 February 2017.
  15. David Wills, Defending morality: countering secularism, UPF website, accessed 16 January 2017.
  16. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named OralEv_Extremism
  17. Committee launches inquiry into extremism in Britain, ‘’Parliament.uk’’, 27 August 2015, accessed 2 march 2017.
  18. Ian Cobain, Alice Ross, Rob Evans and Mona Mahmood, Inside Ricu, the shadowy propaganda unit inspired by the cold war, The Guardian, 2 May 2016, accessed 16 January 2017.