Birmingham: Forward together

Cllr Tristan Chatfield, Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Equalities, blogs on Birmingham: Forward together, a community cohesion summit he hosted last week...

Community cohesion is a phrase that prompts all sorts of response whenever it is used or mentioned.

I think that is because issues of fairness, equality and inclusion affect us all – we all have a stake in creating a better society – which is exactly what community cohesion is.

Birmingham is a great city and I am immensely proud to call it home. But that doesn’t mean that I am not conscious that there are challenges to the kind of community cohesion we all aspire to.

That’s why I was pleased to be able to organise and host a summit last week that looked at the issue. It was attended by a wide range of organisations, and what was really encouraging was the variety of groups who came along to the mac.

All too often you hear that the “usual suspects” dominate debate when policies and strategies are being discussed and devised. That really wasn’t the case last week. We had organisations of all sizes from the big, powerful and well-recognised right through to small grassroots groups under one roof and a stimulating day of debate and discussion occurred.

We reviewed the challenges facing the city and the opportunities in achieving community cohesion, the roles each of our organisations can play and what the next steps should be.

Six key areas were highlighted as action areas as we look, in the medium term, to create a new community cohesion strategy for the city. These areas are:

  1. Female empowerment – 2018 is the centenary of women finally having the right to vote and 100 years on there is still a lot of work to do. How can we use this anniversary as a springboard for improving gender equality in our city?
  2. Perception of Birmingham – How can we improve how people feel about the city – to instil a sense of pride and recognise an identity we all share in?
  3. Aspiration for the city and young people – Birmingham is seen as undergoing a rebirth of sorts. How do we ensure this ‘renaissance buzz’ is more inclusive and relevant to all citizens?
  4. Difficult conversations – Myth-busting on its own doesn’t always work. How can we appeal to people’s real concerns whilst also challenging further stigmatisation of communities?
  5. Neighbourhoods – How do we give people more control and autonomy without creating or adding to tensions (A good example being the perception that a community centre is just for one community or faith group)?
  6. Employment and jobs – Working with businesses and other major employers to ensure all levels of jobs and skills opportunities are widely accessible to all, irrespective of socio-economic background.

As you can see, this isn’t an easy-fix set of actions. They’re issues that concern many, if not all, people across Birmingham.

In the coming weeks and months we will continue to work on this, and I look forward to bringing forward a new strategy in the near future.

If you have any views or opinions, we’d love to hear from you. Please send an email to

This blog was posted on 13 December 2017


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