This report explores the diverse yet divided nature of the UK’s capital city, London. It demonstrates that despite Londoners being very fond of the variety of backgrounds and cultures that the city has within it, contact between people from different backgrounds is not as frequent as one might expect. The report goes on to show why meeting and mixing across social divides is good for health, wellbeing and reducing prejudice, and sets out a number of solutions for making our capital a truly integrated one.
London has become more and more diverse and Londoners’ lives have become less and less uniform – fundamentally transforming the form and feel of our communities.Integration City
- London is often portrayed as a melting pot of different backgrounds and cultures, but research shows that levels of integration (measured by both residential patterns and levels of contact between different groups) are not keeping pace with the city’s intensifying diversity.
- A lack of interaction between people from different backgrounds has a range of damaging impacts for Londoners, including growing anxiety and fear of crime, the potential for civil unrest, increased prejudice, political division, inhibited life chances for younger people and a lack of access to diverse social networks.
To boost social integration across ethnic, age and class divide, The Challenge recommends a number of practical ideas which the Greater London Authority (GLA) could put into action, including:
- Community-proofing London’s housing and planning laws: revising the London Plan to promote building design and developments that promote contact between people from different backgrounds, and encourages housing associations and developers to create shared spaces and facilities.
- Creating twenty-first-century community institutions: developing new institutions and initiatives, including cross-community sports leagues, applying an ‘integration test’ to religious and cultural events, and utilising digital technology to grow community support networks.
- Creating the conditions for migrant integration: including by expanding English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) provision, reforming the process of becoming a British citizen so that it promotes active citizenship, and establishing a Mayoral Office for New Londoners.
- Ensuring London’s public services bring people together: embedding community organisers within schools, encouraging all schools to provide interfaith workshops, working with the London boroughs and NHS to tap into the shared identity of parenthood and establishing intergenerational community centres.
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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.
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