Thursday, 28 February 2013

How do we bring people together?

The Challenge Network brings people from different backgrounds together. Key to this is building clubs and institutions that people want to join. Over the last 50 years, the institutions which connected us have declined – whether places of worship, local markets, trade unions or local clubs and societies. Our aim is to build new institutions for the 21st Century.

We know that the UK is becoming segregated – by income, age and ethnicity. We know because of the research – an OECD report last year showed that our schools were among the most segregated in the rich world*. And many of us know by experience – our friends are mostly like us by income, age and ethnicity.

Want to get a job?  Make friends with employed people.  Researchers in Germany have found that every employed close friend increases your chance of finding work by 4% and your likely salary by 6%*.  

How can this be?  I’ve never been asked at interview whether my friends are employed.  There are three reasons the researchers think this works.  

We know that Britain is socially divided with one of the most segregated school systems in the rich world.

But why should this matter to you? Here’s 5 reasons why it affects you.

1. You want a fairer country.
When people don’t understand each other, it’s very hard for politicians to propose a fair way forward.

45 years ago this April, a British MP gave a speech that would define him, end his career and change our debate about immigration.

Enoch Powell was the MP and this is what he said, “[When I look at the level of immigration] I am filled with foreboding. Like the Roman, I seem to see the River Tiber foaming with much blood.”

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Who’s ‘not your type of people’

About 4 years ago, David Cameron told Desert Island Discs that his favourite band was ‘The Smiths’.

Yesterday, Jonny Marr, one of the founding members of the band was on the radio. He made clear he didn’t like the PM’s politics very much and then said a rather odd thing, “He shouldn’t like us because we’re not his type of people.”

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Youth Culture – good or bad?

Mods, Rockers, Punk, Emos – every generation of young people since the 1960s have had their own sub-culture with distinct music, language and dress.

Sub-cultures are at their strongest where groups feel unwelcomed by the majority. The immigrant Irish community in the 19th century, the gay community at the end of the 20th, the Arab Christian community in the 21st.

Our schools are more divided by income and ethnicity than any other rich country.  This should worry us.  It means we are failing to prepare our children for living in modern Britain.  So what can be done about it.  What would you do?

Ever walked into a party and immediately felt judged?  Or a meeting?  Or a conference?  Or a gathering of someone else’s friends.

As you looked around the room, you somehow knew everyone was thinking about you, “What are they doing here.  They shouldn’t be here, they’re far too …”

Friday, 15 February 2013

Five myths about Divided Britain

The Challenge Network exists to bring people together across lines of difference. We exist to turn Divided Britain into United Britain where people trust each other again.

As I talk to people about what we do, these are the top five myths I encounter.

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