The arrival of new migrants is commonly understood to bring tensions in community relations, competition for resources and challenges for local service delivery. The coalition Government’s focus on the ‘Big Society’ suggests that local people should come together to solve neighbourhood problems and build the community they want. This seminar will explore the use of community based forums to promote shared understanding between new migrants and settled groups around neighbourhood, community and housing issues, and the potential for diverse residents to arrive at common understandings about local problems, needs and solutions.
The seminar (a) explores new and settled populations’ experiences of neighbourhood and community in Bradford; (b) evaluates the effectiveness of inter-cultural dialogue through community forums for inter-group engagement and learning; (c) identifies areas of commonality and divergence in opinions on housing, neighbourhood and community between new and settled groups; (d) explores the potential for building shared understandings of ways to improve everyday life.
Dr Deborah Phillips of Jesus College, University of Oxford, joined the Dialogue Society, Leeds Branch for a fascinating seminar on the considerable potential of local community forums to build relationships between new migrants and longer-established groups. Through such forums, Dr Phillips suggested, different local groups can arrive at common understandings about local problems, needs and solutions, and get to know one another better. Dr Phillips drew on her own research to elucidate the possible role of community forums in the context of the Big Society, and to respond to the questions of a diverse audience.