Headlines: October 11th, 2002

The Home Office has called for bids for a share of a new 6 million pounds Pathfinders Programme to improve community cohesion. Successful projects will have to demonstrate that they are bringing together councils, the community and voluntary sector, and communities to build local solutions to local problems.Britain today has 56 million people, speaking over 300 different languages, and practising at least 14 different faiths. Although the potential is there for a richly diverse and stable society, the disturbances in Bradford, Oldham and Burnley in summer 2001 suggest that diversity is dividing communities in some places. In some cases people from different ethnic groups have little to do with each other and attitudes towards people from different groups are hardening.

It is recognized that community cohesion has to be worked at locally, because it is about how local people relate to each other. The Programme will support the efforts of local organisations and local people working together to get the most meaningful impact.

Bidders for funding will have to show that the agencies operating the funding streams and the local council are jointly committed to partnership working in addressing these challenges. They will also have to make a commitment to implement the findings of the project in the longer term. Allocations from the central budget will only cover half of the cost of programmes.