16.03.2018

The UK’s leading social integration charity, The Challenge, has hailed plans to connect London’s communities as a ‘powerful blueprint’ for the city.

The Challenge, which has its headquarters in the capital and delivers programmes there, today welcomed the Mayor of London’s first-ever social integration strategy, 'All of Us', saying that it would help create meaningful relationships and shared experiences.

The plan places emphasis on encouraging social mixing and interaction across all social divides - between people of different nationalities, ethnicities, age, social class, employment status, sexuality, gender and disability.

Oliver Lee, CEO of The Challenge, said: “London is one of the most diverse, open and exciting cities in the world and this is the bold and innovative plan it deserves.

“Sadiq Khan is blazing a trail in promoting social integration and is taking positive action to address issues that affect us all. With Matthew Ryder as the first deputy mayor for social integration, London really is leading the way and this strategy is a powerful blueprint for the future of our capital and communities."

The plans will bring parents and families from all backgrounds in the capital together and reduce social isolation. One of the major announcements is the creation of The London Family Fund, with £600,000 being invested by 2020, which will help parents across the city build diverse social networks and support each other.

As well as the family fund, the strategy lays out plans to encourage volunteering, particularly among young Londoners, by working with the National Citizen Service Trust and launching a new reward and recognition scheme.

There are also calls to use sport to build relationships between different communities, planned improvements to English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and new ways to measure social integration by creating a ‘social evidence base’. A Workforce Integration Network (WIN) will build a partnership of employers and peer ambassadors, starting with a focus on young black men, who are among the most unemployed in London.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Social integration is an issue for all of us – because it benefits all of us. It goes to the heart of who we are – how we treat each other and what kind of city we want London to be in the future. To achieve a truly integrated society, we must face up to some of the changes that have shaped our city.”

Matthew Ryder QC, deputy mayor for social integration, social mobility and community engagement, said: “This strategy will use the best evidence available, to guide us in our work. That is the only way we can take concrete action to improve people’s lives.”

London is one of the most diverse cities in the world: however, according to the GLA, 21 per cent of Londoners reported that all their friends were of the same ethnicity as themselves, almost a third said all their friends were a similar age, and 30 per cent said all their friends had a similar education to them.

Earlier this week, the Government also shared its first-ever social integration strategy.