Friday, 15 February 2013

Five myths about Divided Britain

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The Challenge Network exists to bring people together across lines of difference. We exist to turn Divided Britain into United Britain where people trust each other again.

As I talk to people about what we do, these are the top five myths I encounter.

1. This is just a problem in a small number of places, like Bradford
No – levels of trust of others have fallen right across Britain over the last fifty years – not just where there are obvious racial tensions.

2. Divided Britain means racial divisions
No – it’s just as much about a lack of trust across generations and income brackets.

3. It’s not that big a problem
No. Divided Britain is very real -our schools are more segregated than anywhere in Europe. And very serious: our divisions are making us the least trusting place in europe*. Low trust countries have lower well-being, weaker societies, less effective labour markets and weaker governments. This matters.

4. It will sort itself out
It won’t. Levels of trust will continue to fall unless we start mixing across these divides. At present we are
mixing less and less even as we become more and more diverse.

5. Nothing can be done
Wrong. Levels of trust rise when people have meaningful interactions with others. We can design youth programmes, schools, housing allocation, child care provision to make this natural and easy. The UK can become a high-trust country again. Its up to us.


* New Economics Foundation, ‘National Accounts of Well-being’ 

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