Headlines: August 11th, 2009

Communities and Local Government have called on public services to think more widely about how communities can become more cohesive. The call comes as it is increasingly recognized that the silo approach of launching cohesion projects funded by cohesion budgets and managed by people with a responsibility for cohesion cannot deliver the desired change. To create a real shift in thinking it is essential for cohesion to become part of the everyday duties and functions of all departments and partners.

This change in thinking will not happen unless cohesion is embedded in core responsibilities and there is a corporate process in councils, police, NHS organizations and other public bodies. Initially a decision has to be taken about the scope for mainstreaming cohesion to allow a review to take place.

Areas where cohesion might be pursued initially include housing, planning and neighbourhood renewal, schools, children and family services for young people, old people or “vulnerable” people, recreation and culture, local communications, community empowerment and engagement, the Police and Fire and Rescue Service, the local NHS, Further education colleges, the voluntary and community sector and local employers.

Communities Minister John Denham said: “Strong and inclusive communities, underpinned by shared values and based on positive relationships and mutual respect, are the building blocks of a fair and stable society. No matter what our background, religion, or political persuasion, we all share some fundamental values: foremost among them being respect for the law; tolerance and freedom of speech. By reinforcing those common values, by supporting chances for people to come together, learn more about each other, and overcome misperceptions, we can reinforce those shared values and strengthen our communities”.