Mayor brings Londoners together with first social integration strategy
- Sadiq launches The London Family Fund to help parents build networks and address isolation
- Boosts for sport and volunteering at heart of strategy
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has launched a new fund that will bring together more parents and families from all backgrounds in the capital and reduce social isolation.
The “London Family Fund” will help parents across the city build social networks and support each other when embarking on one of life’s greatest challenges – becoming a parent. The funding was announced at MumSpace in Camberwell, a local support group for parents, with £600,000 being invested in projects to help parents from all backgrounds build relationships and set up support networks.
This announcement was made as part of the launch of the Mayor’s new strategy to address social integration in London - the first time a Mayor of London has set out such a strategic approach.
Sadiq’s new vision goes beyond the standard approach to social integration, which places emphasis solely on people of different nationalities and ethnicities and overlooks other important aspects of social division such as age, social class, employment status, sexuality, gender and disability.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “Social integration is an issue for all of us – because it benefits all of us. It goes to the heart of who we are – how we treat each other and what kind of city we want London to be in the future. To achieve a truly integrated society, we must face up to some of the changes that have shaped our city.
“I am proud that London is one of the most diverse and progressive cities in the world. But our communities are changing rapidly, inequality across the capital is increasing – in these unsettling times our sense of social cohesion is being put to the test like never before.
“I strongly believe that we can tackle the barriers to social integration and the inequalities which divide people. We can ensure that all Londoners can become active citizens, participating fully in the life of the best city in the world.”
The Mayor’s ambitious strategy highlights the need for all Londoners to build relationships in order to create proper connections and to help end divisions. London is one of the most diverse cities in the world: however, 21 per cent of Londoners reported that all their friends were of the same ethnicity as themselves, almost a third said all their friends were a similar age, and 30 per cent said all their friends had a similar education to them. The strategy aims to create a socially integrated city where people have more opportunities to connect positively with each other and relate to each other as equals.
Social integration is important because it breaks down the inequities between Londoners, increases social mobility, reduces loneliness and improve health outcomes for everyone. Most of all it strengthens communities and helps makes Londoners resilient against the causes of divisions and mistrust.
The Mayor appointed Matthew Ryder QC as the first-ever Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility, Community Engagement 18 months ago. This strategy demonstrates Sadiq’s continuing commitment to bringing the whole city together and breaking down barriers that keep people apart.
New action to bring Londoners together includes:
- Bringing together families from different backgrounds by launching The London Family Fund, and investing £600,000 by 2020. Evidence shows that new parents are more open to interacting and connecting with people from different backgrounds. This new fund looks at ways of cementing these new relationships and help parents build relationships and support networks with people from different backgrounds.
- Incentivising volunteering, particularly amongst young Londoners. This will include launching a new reward and recognition scheme and working with the National Citizens Service Trust to evolve its programme to suit the needs of young Londoners, in order to encourage them to play an active role in their local community and the decisions that affect them.
- Using sport to build relationships between different communities in the capital. This will include working with organisations such as Sports Relief and London Sport to promote respect and justice, and engage people at risk of loneliness or marginalisation.
- Addressing the under-representation of Londoners from different groups in key industries. For instance, launching the Workforce Integration Network (WIN) which will build a partnership of employers and peer ambassadors, starting with a focus on young black men who have among the highest unemployment rates in London (32 per cent compared to 14 per cent for young white men).
- Improving the suitability and availability of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). ESOL Plus will invest in a series of pilots to better provide ESOL for learners who need greater support, encourage employers to offer ESOL in the workplace, and test the use of English language teaching and learning in supporting Londoners to come together.
- Exploring new ways of measuring social integration in London. With few measures currently in place, the new strategy will introduce new ways of measuring and tracking the state of social integration in the city – working with London Boroughs to develop a Social Evidence Base.
Matthew Ryder, QC, Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility, Community Engagement, said: “We are pleased to be launching the new social integration strategy today. The Mayor has always emphasised that a modern, diverse city also needs to be an integrated city. This strategy represents the transition of social integration from a misunderstood idea into a mainstream principle that will influence how public bodies create policy and allocate resources. It also is about how Londoners can connect with each other to overcome barriers and deal with a range of social issues from inequality and unemployment to ill health and loneliness. It applies to the city's democratic and political life, not just its social and economic institutions. This strategy will use the best evidence available, to guide us in our work. That is the only way we can take concrete action to improve people’s lives.”
Josephine Namusisi-Riley, Parents And Communities Together lead at Citizens UK said: "We're delighted the Mayor has chosen Mumspace to launch his social integration strategy. We bring the most amazingly diverse group of mums together every week and the struggles and joys of parenthood make for such a strong common experience. People who wouldn’t normally meet each other end up forming strong bonds and parents support each other to give their children the best start in life.”
Matthew Bolton, Deputy Director, Citizens UK said: “Mayor Sadiq Khan’s continued focus on social integration is excellent to see and crucial to building a healthier, happier and more tolerant London. We’re delighted the Mayor is launching the new fund at Parents and Children Together, a pioneering project bringing an amazing mix of local parents together to support each other and develop the skills and connections to give their children the best start in life.”
Professor Danielle S. Allen, Harvard University, said: “The long-term health of our vibrant, diverse democracies depends on our learning how to forge a connected society. It's incredibly exciting to see the thoughtful intentionality the Mayor of London is bringing to inspiring a higher level of connectedness among the people of London.”
Oliver Lee, CEO of The Challenge, said: “London is one of the most diverse, open and exciting cities in the world and this is the bold and innovative plan it deserves.
“Sadiq Khan is blazing a trail in promoting social integration and is taking positive action to address issues that affect us all. With Matthew Ryder as the first Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement, London really is leading the way and this strategy is a powerful blueprint for the future of our capital and communities."
Notes to editors
Figures on Londoner’s relationships are from GLA Analysis of Understanding Society, 2014/15
Parents And Communities Together (PACT) develops the leadership and networks of parents and so helps give babies the best start in life. We’ve built an innovative partnership of communities, health visitors and midwives and the independent evaluation by the Institute of Psychology and Psychiatry demonstrates we are having a positive impact on parental mental health, as well as improving social capital, school readiness and childhood obesity. PACT is an initiative of community organising charity, Citizens UK. PACT Southwark is funded by GSTT. And now PACT is expanding to other parts of London and the UK.