“Resilience in Unity”
Travis Frain is a survivor of the 2017 Westminster Bridge attack in which four people were killed, when a car was driven into pedestrians. Since then, Travis has become a prominent campaigner for educating society of the dangers of terrorism and founded the Resilience in Unity project, which seeks to record and amplify testimonies and educate society on the risks from terrorism. Travis recently received The British Citizen Award for Services to Volunteering and Charitable Giving, for the January 2023 Roll of Honour
So far, more than 100 testimonies have been recorded from more than 20 countries around the world. Travis also visits schools, colleges and universities, sharing his story and building awareness of extremism and terrorism and providing tools for understanding and preventing radicalisation.
CTB spoke to Travis about the work he has been doing. We began by asking why he decided to start Resilience in Unity.
Travis said: “On 22 March 2017, a man named Khalid Masood drove a car into pedestrians on the pavement along the south side of Westminster Bridge in London, killing four people and injuring a further 50 people. I, and my friends, were all injured in the attack, though fortunately we all survived.
“Over the years following the attack, I came to very quickly understand the difficulties that survivors can face in the aftermath of an attack, and the need for connection and solidarity to be formed with other survivors in order to support one another. As I became more active in this area, wanting to support other victims and do what I could to prevent future extremism, I came to see how our stories can be an effective counternarrative to those spread by extremists seeking to divide.
This is why I set up the Resilience in Unity project. I wanted to give those affected by terrorism a voice and a platform to tell their story, whilst also commemorating and memorialising the lives lost through acts of terrorism across the globe.”
Travis explained how the project works: “We speak to survivors and victims from around the world to reflect on their personal experiences, recording their testimonies and crafting these onto a mapping tool that can be viewed and accessed by anyone via our website. We have so far recorded over 100 testimonies from over 20 countries.”
The project has a few aims which include: humanising victims, beyond merely becoming a statistic, and demonstrating the realities of human suffering as a result of terrorism and demonstrating the benefits of listening to those most affected, ensuring we learn from their experiences to better our counterterrorism efforts and policies. Among the other aims are educating wider society on the risks from terrorism and the tangible things we can do at grassroots level to prevent radicalisation and safeguard our community, friends and family and providing a resource for those aiming to counter the spread of hate and division in our communities.
Travis explained how we can learn from survivors of terrorism and how their voices can be used to make a change. He said: “Well the first step is by genuinely listening to survivors and understanding their unique experiences, rather than simply providing hot air. Many survivors are told that ‘lessons will be learned’ after attacks and yet, when it comes to support for victims, so many have been campaigning for change for years, with little movement from Government. Last year I testified before the UN Assembly on the importance of remembrance and recognition and how survivors’ voices can be used for preventing violent extremism, calling for a National Day of Service in Tribute to Victims of Terrorism. By hearing first hand from survivors of terrorism and learning from their experiences, we can ensure victims of future attacks receive the best possible support, and we can properly address any failures identified by inquiries and inquests to help prevent other attacks in future.”
Expanding on what the government could do, Travis said: “Commemorations provide an important opportunity for us to unite survivors and learn from their experiences so we can improve our counterterrorism efforts, including the support provided to the victims of terrorist attacks.
“Last year I met with representatives from Downing Street to propose we set up a national day of service in tribute to victims of terrorism – a day where we as a nation can take time to consider how our actions impact one another and identify ways in which we can challenge extremist ideologies and ultimately prevent future attacks.
“We must all work together to ensure victims of terrorism are not forgotten. Governments, survivors’ organisations, civil society groups, communities – we all have a role to play to inspire positive change, and I hope that the Government will continue their commitment to establishing such a date so that we can provide the public with the tools to recognise the warning signs of radicalisation, and to support those most intimately affected.”
We also asked Travis what the public can do to help. He replied: “It is more important than ever that we stand together against the enduring terrorist threat. We offer resources and guidance via the Resilience in Unity website for those seeking more information on how to educate, take action, and respond to terrorism. Find out more here.
“For other support, I would recommend that people contact their local Prevent Team at the Council or contact their local Police Department for advice!”
Travis told us about the work he does visiting schools around the country.
“We are seeing a rapid rise of extremism online and in schools across the UK. Given the Home Office’s latest report highlighting the rise of under-18s being arrested for terror offences, we feel we have an important role to play in reducing the influence of extremist groups and protecting vulnerable minds.
“Over the past couple of years, I have visited hundreds of schools, colleges, and universities across the country to provide practitioners with the tools and resources needed to safeguard young people from the dangers they may face online and to educate young people on the risks so they can identify and challenge extremism for themselves. More than anything else, I feel it is important that young people hear these real-life stories and understand that these issues truly can affect any one of us – after all, I was only 19 years old at the time of the Westminster attack.”
Talking about some of the testimonies that have been gathered as part of the project, Travis shared one with us.
“A great example of the good that can be found in sharing and amplifying these voices, and the initiatives they are involved in, can be quite clearly seen with Cath Hill. Cath survived the Manchester Arena attack on 22 May 2017 – where 22 innocent people lost their lives – after taking her son to see his first ever concert. The event changed their lives forever and they have been living with the psychological consequences every day since. As a result of their experience, Cath set up the Bee the Difference research project with the National Emergencies Trust, spearheaded by nine young survivors from the attack. Bee the Difference has now interviewed hundreds of young victims of the Manchester arena attack, determined to learn from these young people’s experiences to ensure children affected by future attacks receive the best possible support. Cath’s work and the Bee the Difference project is just one example of the many inspiring initiatives that many survivors become involved in post-attack, positive initiatives that aim to keep us all safer in future.”
When asked for any final comments, Travis responded: “All I would add is this; to anyone reading this magazine, please take into account the reality behind this topic. Too often I feel we can get caught up in the theory, and lose sight of what really matters – the raw, real-life stories of those affected by these heinous acts. Only by centring them at the heart of our efforts going forward can we seek to properly address the threat, and coherently present a firm response in the face of terrorism.”