Abstracts: November 16th, 2009

This guide for frontline staff and community activists offers advice on promoting community cohesion.

Groups have a significant impact on community cohesion, whether they are formed along ethnic, faith, religion or gender lines. In addition there are less formal groups such as family, friends, or a local estate. Bringing people in groups together is one way of developing strong and positive relationships between people of different backgrounds. A group feels less anxious and threatened by the existence of the other group when there is meaningful and sustained interaction between them.

It is also important to tackle local attitudes, perceptions and myths. The first step is to find out facts about the local area, such as the numbers of A8 migrants and housing allocation policy. The local leaders and workers should be helped to understand the complexity of the issues. Then opportunities should be explored for meaningful interaction between groups with the aim of reducing stereotypes. Involving schools and colleges in raising awareness can help.

The guide also offers advice on developing the role of young people, effective community leadership and creating a local sense of belonging.