A photo of two young people on NCS talking to a team member of The Challenge

All Together Now

This report sets out the importance of social integration and describes the techniques and practices which The Challenge believes lie at the heart of creating positive and powerful social mixing experiences.

Britain of today is more socially mixed than at any point in history, but Britons from different walks of life don’t actually mix with one another very much

All Together Now

Drawing on our experience of designing, delivering and rapidly growing social integration programmes which have brought over 200,000 young people together, we outline our nine Design Principles for Meaningful Mixing. These set out the key steps which organisations of all kinds – be they public, private or civil society – can take to foster socially mixed spaces, create active mixing experiences, and build sustainable bonds between people from different backgrounds.

Key findings

  • The need to strengthen social connections between people of different backgrounds is greater than ever. Modern Britain is more socially diverse than it has ever been, but there is clear evidence that large numbers of people from a different faith, ethnic, socio-economic and age groups don’t interact socially with one another.
  • At the heart of this pattern of social segregation is our innate preference for spending time with those who we perceive to be ‘people like us’. We call this tendency homophily.
  • Lack of meaningful mixing means that we too often find ourselves unable to understand or empathise with the feelings and perspectives of people from other social and cultural backgrounds, or those with different experiences of life.
  • Widening social division and fragmentation may have a range of other harmful knock-on effects, including increased political polarisation, feelings of anxiety, and the poorer physical and mental health that can result from a lack of trust.
  • To bridge these widening divisions, The Challenge argues that we need to think methodically about how to strengthen social connections across society. Meaningful mixing is not the same thing as simply bringing a diverse group of people together in a room – it requires careful thought and design.

To guide organisations in building meaningful, rather than tokenistic, connections, The Challenge has set out nine Design Principles for Meaningful Mixing, as listed here:

  1. Give people a positive reason to join in
  2. Project an inclusive brand and proposition
  3. Capitalise on transitions to drive behaviour change
  4. Proactively counter the ‘people like us’ preference
  5. Facilitate equal status interactions
  6. Promote common challenging goals
  7. Cultivate a culture of unity
  8. Encourage regular and sustained contact
  9. Enable reflection

Mixing in Motion

Three cogs. The top one says the cycle of social mixing, the one of the right says the cycle of economic participation, the left one says the cycle of empowerment. These are all reovling around a middle cog that says

Interested in learning about our Policy Impact?

We believe that, through reforming and growing institutions and practices in small but intelligent ways, policymakers and social entrepreneurs could substantially increase integration between different people.

Visit our Policy Impact page.