18.11.2016

How do we make sure our cities are more integrated?

The world is becoming an increasingly diverse place, and global leading cities are a microcosm of this change. Population projections for London show that Londoners are becoming an ever more diverse bunch – within 25 years, almost half of all Londoners will come from a black or minority ethnic background. One in three Londoners will be pensioners or children, and the income gap between the richest and poorest will have widened considerably – today, London is home to 15% of the richest and 15% of the poorest people in the UK.

With all this change, how do we ensure communities are able to live peacefully together rather than living separate lives side by side?

Last week, London mayor Sadiq Khan hosted the city’s first ever social integration conference. The conference brought together leaders from Europe and the US to discuss these challenges. You can read bits of Mayor Khan’s speech in The Evening Standard, which called  for Londoners to come together and in The Guardian piece on the importance of “building bridges not walls”. The key message from Sadiq Khan was that promoting social integration is a matter for everyone, and the importance of this issue can no longer be ignored.

BBC Radio 4 show Moral Maze also talked social integration in their 16 November edition. Jon Yates, a founder and director of The Challenge, appeared on the programmme, and you can listen to his session here.

The discussion as a whole dealt with immigration, diversity and the moral merits of having diverse social networks. Having supported tens of thousands of young people to go through amazing and incredible experiences with others from different backgrounds, Jon talked about the importance of giving people the opportunity to mix – without forcing them to do so. Listen to the broadcast for more on why social networks are vital for social mobility, and the role of Government and society in facilitating mixing.