A new report published today says there is an urgent need to support organisations working to achieve good relations in communities throughout England.
The report (Untold stories of good relations) is published by community interest company Talk for a Change and international peacebuilding charity International Alert. It is a result of 11 workshops and consultations with 346 staff and volunteers from 235 charities, community groups and public sector organisations from across the country. The work was funded by Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and Oxfam.
In particular, the report found that:
- Community activists, local organisations, volunteers are undertaking work on a daily basis to strengthen bonds and trust between and within communities.
- This work is often highly sensitive and complex but a range of approaches are used in a very skilled way to strengthen relations and to calm tensions within communities.
- Many of the organisations are under-resourced and under tremendous pressures to survive as a result of reduced funding. They are concerned about the impact that cuts, and the nature of narratives around welfare, immigration and belonging are having on local community relations.
Jo Broadwood, the lead author of the report, says: "Many of the people and organisations we talked to support the ‘social glue’ maintaining and strengthening social bonds across different groups. They do this via a range of approaches such as advocacy, arts and sports events, intercultural dialogue and mediation. However the stories of their work go largely unheard within the national media where we mostly hear stories that divide communities.”
The authors also suggest there is a need for a ‘light touch’ alliance that can amplify the voice of many organisations and practitioners, provide peer support and influence government policies aimed at supporting communities.
According to Barry Navarro of International Alert, who co-authored the report: “Despite the valuable work that organisations do, they are often simply too small, too busy and too far away from the centre of decision making to show the impact they have. This is why we think an alliance would be a valuable support vehicle.”
‘Good relations’ work focuses on building cohesive and peaceful communities by developing local capacity for resolving differences without violence, and by giving a voice to marginalised groups and individuals, and those with the least access to power and resources. In the UK, this work is needed in the light of polarisation of public discourses on issues of immigration and welfare, as well as inequality across the country.
To find out more about the conclusions of the report, please contact:
Director – Talk for a Change
M: 07944 705196
Senior UK Programme Officer at International Alert
T: 0207 627 6887/ M: 0797 3838869