Mayor pledges to make social integration a ‘core’ priority
Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, has today (Wednesday 1 June) pledged to make improving social integration in London one of his ‘core’ priorities over the next four years.
During a visit to an Age UK inter-generational volunteering event in Southwark, the Mayor said social integration is ‘one of the biggest challenges we face’ as a city and pledged to do everything possible ‘to strengthen London’s social fabric and tighten the bonds between Londoners from different backgrounds’.
Sadiq Khan made improving social integration a key part of his election campaign, focusing on the role it can play in tackling extremism and radicalisation, and keeping Londoners safe. Today he stressed that the benefits of social integration are even broader than that, highlighting the role that better inter-generational integration can play in improving health outcomes for older Londoners, and the role that better integration of people from different economic backgrounds can play in improving social mobility for all Londoners.
Sadiq Khan described social integration as ‘the key to a more productive, healthier and ultimately more prosperous city for all Londoners’.
London is one of the most diverse cities in the world, but evidence shows that individually Londoners spend relatively little time with people from different walks of life. A lack of integration – measured by interaction between people from different ethnic, age and socio-economic groups – has been shown to prevent the development of the bonds of trust and the sense of belonging which underpin successful communities.
New research by City Hall, revealed by the Mayor during the visit, also shows that Londoners perceive a strong connection between volunteering and a sense of community, with 86 per cent saying that volunteering plays an important role in bringing communities together to improve their quality of life.
Sadiq Khan has outlined a series of plans to improve social integration and ensure more Londoners develop strong relationships with people of different faiths, race, economic background and age. This includes supporting volunteering projects, promoting mixed sports teams and using design and planning to ensure people spend more time meeting people from different backgrounds, for example by ensuring all schools have a sheltered space at the entrance so parents can stop and talk as they drop their children at school.
The event in Southwark today was part of Team London's ‘Run to do Good', an initiative which saw over 150 volunteers run from Tower Bridge to take part in a diverse range of volunteering opportunities with local charities. It marks the start of Volunteers’ Week and a month of activities for London as the European Volunteering Capital, and was aimed at raising the profile of ‘speed volunteering’ – a way of getting more people involved in volunteering for the first time.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:
“London is more diverse than ever and is a shining example of how people from different backgrounds can live side-by-side and not just respect, but embrace each other’s differences. But this is something we need to constantly work on as a city and is still one of the biggest challenges we face.
“During the mayoral election campaign, I spoke about the importance of promoting greater social integration to tackling extremism and radicalisation. This is absolutely vital as there is nothing more important than keeping Londoners safe, but the benefits of social integration go far wider than this.
“Social integration is not only good for local communities - evidence has shown it can also help reduce mental health issues, prevent the vulnerable from becoming isolated and enable people to contribute fully to their community and fulfil their potential.
“As Mayor, I want to do all I can to help strengthen London’s social fabric and tighten the bonds between Londoners from different backgrounds, encouraging people to build connections with their fellow Londoners. So as well as my other key priorities – such as delivering more affordable housing, tackling air pollution, freezing transport fares and promoting the creative industries - improving social integration will be one of my core priorities over the next four years.
“We know that volunteering, particularly inter-generational volunteering, is beneficial for those young people taking part - providing opportunities to build leadership and communications skills. But it’s also a great way to break down barriers and bring people from different backgrounds and parts of London together.
“So I will be supporting more great events like Run to do Good and I encourage more Londoners to get involved in volunteering for, and connecting with, others in their community. There is no doubt that these kinds for initiatives lead to greater social integration - the way to a more productive, healthier and ultimately more prosperous city for all Londoners.”
Notes to editors
- A report by the Social Integration Commission found that highly diverse areas are not necessarily integrated. For example, despite socialising more with people of different ethnic groups, Londoners are proportionally less integrated by social grade, ethnicity and age than the rest of Britain. http://socialintegrationcommission.org.uk/a-wake-up-call-social-integration-commission.pdf
- New research by City Hall shows that Londoners perceive a strong connection between volunteering and a sense of community, with 86 per cent saying that volunteering plays an important role in bringing communities together to improve quality of life. http://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/gla-poll-results
- Team London: Team London is the Mayor of London’s volunteering initiative. It supports over 1,750 charitable organisations, works with over 100 businesses to recognise the importance of volunteering for their staff and the next generation and provides thousands of opportunities for all Londoners to give back to their community through its website and speed volunteering app. Team London runs a wide range of programmes working cross-sector to support young people and London’s communities, notably HeadStart London in partnership with social integration charity The Challenge, promotes social inclusion and develops employability by a guaranteed interview scheme for young Londoners. London was named European Volunteering Capital 2016 as a result of Team London’s partnership working with the third sector.
- Volunteers’ Week in London: Today’s event kicks off Volunteers’ Week and marks the start of a month of activation as European Volunteering Capital. Over 150 volunteers including GB Athletes and employee volunteers from a range of leading London businesses took part. Activities being led by Team London throughout the month include the Big Recruit on 7 June with 20 volunteering centres across the capital opening their doors to support unemployed people to use volunteering as a route to work. The Big Advice Day, a large speed networking event for charities to meet with businesses to help develop their skillsets, is also taking place on 14 June. For more information visit www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/volunteering.
- Run To Do Good: As part of Volunteers' Week, Team London and partner organisation Good Gym have organised London's Largest Ever Run to do Good. To support this, volunteers from the GLA and Team London's networks have either volunteered to run and take part in a volunteering activity or to donate work clothes to local charities who provide them to the unemployed to look professional for job interviews. The volunteers run in teams to a volunteering opportunity, volunteer for 30 to 40 minutes and then run back again.
- Team London led the successful bid for London to be named European Volunteering Capital 2016 with support from local volunteer centres and Greater London Volunteering. The European Volunteering Capital Competition is run by the European Volunteer Centre and aims to promote volunteering at a local level by giving recognition to municipalities that support and strengthen partnerships with volunteer centres and celebrate and promote volunteering and the impact made by volunteers. The 11 candidate cities were: Belfast, Bruges, Cagliari, Cascais, Edinburgh, London, Lucca, Perm, Rome, Varese and Viterbo. To find out more, visit www.cev.be.
- Later this year, the Mayor will host the first ever Mayor’s International Volunteering Conference on International Volunteer Day at City Hall to bring together best practice from across the world to learn, share and showcase work that truly improves the lives of some harder to reach groups.