My Former Life

What is it?

A multimedia education resource and accompanying workshop(s) based on the powerful stories of four former extremists. Ideal for classroom use.

Who is it for?

  • 14-19 year-olds from single or multiple identity groups
  • older groups too, including those who work with young people, community groups and women
  • One day workshop for minimum 30 maximum 34 students

Open to all as a powerful tool to raise awareness and understanding, My Former Life is particularly effective with those vulnerable to radicalising themselves and others towards violent extremism, e.g. those who have expressed approbation of violent Far Right or extreme Islamist views. They can be brought together on the same programme, though this may require additional preparatory work.

How does it work?

A multimedia education resource based on a documentary about four former extremists. The film and accompanying workshop(s) explore the formers’ personal and political motivations for getting involved in violent conflict, the consequences of their actions, and their departure from a life of extremism. Participants are taken through resonant personal journeys relating the causes and effects of violent extremism. Ultimately, heroic and ideologically driven narratives are undermined, as participants share the formers’ discovery that extremism comes at too high a price, and doesn’t help solve political and personal problems. My Former Life combines the exploration of real-life stories with interactive and participatory exercises designed to raise self-awareness. This approach empowers participants to internalise the learning and develop personal strategies to develop their own and peers’ skills in building awareness of and resistance to destructive ideologies.

PROGRAMME of delivery over 1 day

  1. Initial baseline assessment before workshop starts, to measure knowledge, understanding and attitudes
  2. One day intensive programme delivery in an interactive workshop based in a large classroom
  3. End of workshop assessment to measure changes in knowledge understanding and attitudes


  • Exploration of film and its content including four chapters exploring:
    1. Myself
    2. My Former Self
    3. Doubts and Departures
    4. Myself Now – Life After
  • Participatory exercises to facilitate experiential learning and promote the connection between the film and ‘real life’
  • Simulations – role-play of real life situations, putting into practice new strategies of managing conflict and responding to persuasion
  • Dialogue and interrogation of views – the airing of grievances and challenging of narratives

Connection with ‘the other’ – through analysing the film and hearing from other groups, participants draw the conclusion that violence and extremist rhetoric occurs everywhere with similarly futile results