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Ploughing experience into positive change – we talk to our Patron, Travis Frain

On 22 March 2017, an individual drove a hired car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in London, before exiting the vehicle and attacking nearby people with a blade. He killed six people and injured around fifty others. Amongst those injured was Travis Frain, who, at the time, was a 19-year-old university student. Travis recovered from his injuries and, since that day, has been determined to raise awareness of the terrorist threat and campaign for improved vigilance and protection in the hope of preventing such needless trauma and loss of life again. He became co-founder of ‘Students in Terror’, and founded the Resilience in Unity Project in 2021, which aims to counter radicalisation by empowering the voices of survivors of terrorism from around the world. An advisor for the National Counter-Terrorism Advisory Group, Travis has delivered counter terrorism training workshops to more than 100,000 young people in schools, colleges and community centres around the UK. His achievements were recognised with an OBE in the King’s New Year’s Honours List.

Travis been a RAPAID patron for the past twelve months, helping to raise awareness of the work we’re doing to distribute our life-saving emergency bandages kits to taxis and public places across the UK. He’s a massive supporter of the principle that we should be working hard to prevent attacks, while ensuring we’re prepared should the worst happen.

As we mark the 7th anniversary of Westminster Bridge attacks, we talked to Travis about how he picked himself up and became a force in the fight against terrorism, and the reasons why he’s supporting the RAPAID charity.

Since the Westminster Bridge attack, you have become a prominent counter terrorism campaigner and founded The Resilience Project – how did the incident change your life and your goals?

The attack changed my life massively – I went through a long stage of not knowing what I wanted to do career wise. After a long time of being aimless, I essentially decided that I was going to commit myself to counter-terrorism, and to doing what I could to try and improve things for other victims in future, as well as trying to prevent these kinds of attacks from happening full stop.

What knowledge and training do you wish you’d had before the incident?

Honestly, I think any training in this area is better than none. I think that people assume it’s something that will never affect them so they pay very little attention towards the idea of training, so not many people actually have any experience. I believe that at the very least people should be undergoing first aid training so that they can help if they happen to be at the scene of an incident. But, better yet, if people were able to recognise potential warning signs of a terror attack, there would be a much greater chance of minimising injuries and fatalities. It’s vital that people become aware of these signs and are aware of advice from the police, such as ‘stop, hide, tell’, so that we have a much better chance of combatting these incidents in the future. Counter terrorism advice is available free online for anyone from the ProtectUK website, and it takes less than an hour.

Tell us a little bit about The Resilience Project.

The Resilience and Unity Project seeks to record and disseminate the testimonials of those affected by terrorism. I helped found it to raise awareness of these issues and to make it clear to people that these issues can affect anyone. This isn’t just an online space for those affected to memorialise, it’s also an opportunity to essentially engage people in counter-extremism work.

How do you think members of the public can improve their resilience now?

I think there are a lot of things that we can all do on a daily basis to be more resilient, not just to terrorism but to violence in general. For a start, we need to recognise these issues, because it’s inevitable that it will affect us at some point in our lives, whether that be you yourself being involved, or a family or friend – not just from terrorism, but from knife crime and other, more common forms of violence. The bare minimum people can do is first aid training, and any other training on top of that only helps even more to be well prepared. These are simple things that could, one day, save your life or the life of a loved one.

What part do you think RAPAID is playing in protecting people?

RAPAID is playing a key role in preparing society for the next incident – whether this be terrorism or other violent crimes. They’re also a huge helping hand in accidents, such as if someone cuts themselves on some glass, or other accidents. It’s all about preparing society, and equipping us to doing something about any incident that may occur. Having RAPAID kits readily available allows members of the public to stabilise injuries, preventing the casualty from bleeding out until the emergency services arrive. They mean that literally anyone could save a life if someone is seriously injured and bleeding.

When did you first hear about the RAPAID initiative?

I first heard about RAPAID a few years ago – I was signposted to the charity by another victim of the Westminster attacks, a friend of mine who gave me a heads up about what they were doing. I reached out to them, and the more I learned about the initiative, the more it became clear to me that I needed to help out, as this is something that is key to my mission as an attack survivor to help future victims.

What made you support the initiative as a patron, and what does your role as a patron entail?

Well one thing I’ve often said over the past few years is that I will help out anyone and any initiative that aligns with my goals – those goals being to prevent future attacks, and enable us to respond better to any attacks, whether that is supporting victims, or improving the medial outcomes of those affected. RAPAID lines up perfectly with those goals – so becoming a patron was a no-brainer. As a patron, my aim is essentially to try and use the platform I’ve gained from media attention around my experience to shine a light on what RAPAID are doing to help victims survive violence and empower members of the public to help others in the event of an accident or incident.

What has been the response of others when you have told them about RAPAID?

Overwhelmingly, the RAPAID mission has been massively well received by other survivors – so many others have offered their support and wanted to get involved and help out. They see from their own experience how important this cause is, and they want to see these bandage kits distributed to as many locations as possible. It’s testament to the importance of the work the charity is doing, and we all need to do our bit to ensure this cause is properly funded and supported nationally – not for the benefit of the organisation, but for the benefit of the country and everyone who lives here.

Any final words?

I would just add that if anyone reading this wants to know a little bit more about RAPAID, wants to know more from my personal experience about why this is so important and why we need this initiative, I would recommend and encourage them to reach out to anyone involved with the charity – whether that’s me or other members of the team. We’ll be more than happy to make clear why this is so important, and to show how this could have made a real difference in saving the lives of the many people lost in terror attacks in the past. Ultimately this initiative has the potential to save the lives of anyone caught up in a terror attack in the future, so please do support RAPAID if you can.