Jamiesha Majevadia, Senior Policy Researcher
QnA with the person behind the Challenge’s British Integration Survey
Jamiesha Majevadia, senior policy, research and evaluation manager for The Challenge, led on the research and writing of the British Integration Survey. We caught up with her to discuss why the BIS is important and the process of working on such a big project looked like.
The Challenge has carried out our own research into how well integrated Britain really is. The British Integration Survey (BIS) has given us some really interesting information and statistics and has confirmed one really important thing: the UK is in need of more social integration.
Q: Hi Jamiesha, let’s start with you telling us a bit about yourself and your role?
A: I started working at The Challenge in March 2018 as the policy and research manager in the public affairs and policy team. I now work as the senior policy, research and evaluation manager and work closely with other teams such as strategy, communications and innovation. I started working on the BIS almost as soon as I joined The Challenge but things really started a couple of months in. It’s been my big project for a while and, as much as I enjoyed the process of putting it together, it’s nice to see a final product!
Q: Can you explain for those who don’t know, what BIS is and why it matters?
A: The British Integration Survey is a large-scale national survey of 6,500 people in Great Britain. We asked people to tell us about themselves so we understand their characteristics. Then we asked about the people they spend time with to try to understand how diverse their social circles are, as well as what they think of different groups in society. In a nutshell, it’s a bit of a temperature check on the nation to see if we’re truly mixing and, if we’re not, which groups are the most isolated.
As we all work for the UK’s leading charity on social integration, the results of a survey like this really matter. Firstly, it shows that a unique charity like The Challenge is vital in creating the kind of society in which we want to live – especially in this day and age. It also means that we can take these statistics and use them as a way of influencing the world around us so that we become more socially integrated.
Q: How can the statistics from the BIS be used?
A: It’s so important that we give people the opportunity to meet, mix and connect with people who are different so that we can ultimately be more understanding, sympathetic and resilient. Even memorising one statistic to share in conversation could be really helpful.
The main findings show some pretty worrying divisions in our society – 44% of Brits don’t know anyone from a different ethnic background, and one in five people in the UK don’t know anyone from a different socio-economic background. We only have to look at the news headlines every day to see that people are not connecting across their differences – Brexit and social media do a pretty good job of showing just how divided we are and, I think, particularly at this time, the public is really picking up on those divisions. All of The Challenge’s programmes combat social segregation in some way and I hope that having the statistics to show what a problem it will help to raise awareness for the need for social integration.
Q: What was the research process like? I bet a project like this wasn’t quick and easy?!
A: Firstly, I looked at some surveys we had conducted before and tried to understand what did and didn’t work. After talking to lots of colleagues within The Challenge and experts in survey design and sociological research, I made some changes to the survey, which have improved the kind of data we receive.
We then commissioned a company called ComRes to build the survey online and we asked a total of 6,500 people all of these questions. Survey respondents were aged 13 to 65 and over, and I particularly looked for additional samples of 13-15-year-olds and BAME individuals – this improves the accuracy of the survey. We then took all the data and a draft report from ComRes, and began to build a picture of Great Britain and the different characteristics, which can help us to understand what drives social mixing and social segregation. The result is the British Integration Survey 2019.
Andy Dixon, head of public affairs and policy, and I wrote the report together, but the time and efforts of lots of colleagues in the communications, strategy and marketing teams brought this over the finish line. It’s great to have it out in the world and hopefully, the staff at The Challenge, as well as the British public, will be able to use some of the interesting stats that came from it.
Q: What’s next for you? I bet you can’t wait to relax!
Ha! Yes, well I’m sure I’ll enjoy this weekend but, after that, we’ll produce some research briefings using the BIS data that will take a closer look at attitudes and then we’ll start exploring social integration in the workplace for the next piece of research! Keep an eye out for some more news about the survey, as we’ll be sharing more in-depth pieces on particular topics in the report over the coming months on the website and our social media.