Reflections on the Integrated Communities Green Paper

Published: 11 May 2018
Mike Fitter from Cohesion Sheffield shares some initial reflections on the Integrated Communities Green Paper from a Sheffield Perspective.


More information about Cohesion Sheffield can be found on their website.

There are many interesting and useful ideas that Cohesion Sheffield can develop in our local context.  Although the focus is integration, the approach and much of the contents fit with our focus on cohesion.


For example


  • Integration is not assimilation. We want everyone to feel confident and proud of their identity and heritage. … This is what true integration looks like – communities where people, whatever their background, live, work, learn and socialise together, based on shared rights, responsibilities and opportunities.  Communities where many religions, cultures and opinions are celebrated, underpinned by a shared set of British values that champion tolerance, freedom and equality of opportunity.  A society in which everyone is a potential friend.
    We welcome this clarity – too often integration is taken to mean assimilation. 

  • The challenge.  Evidence points to a worrying number of communities, divided along race, faith or socio-economic lines.  It is important that socio-economic divisions are specified, an important issue in Sheffield.

  • Implement a national framework of priorities locally.  This matches the Sheffield Cohesion Strategic Framework, which invites organisations and groups in Sheffield across all sectors to implement their own Cohesion Actions Plans.

  • Building the capacity of leaders and sharing learning.  Support a new Cohesion and Integration Network to build the capacity of leaders and practitioners in the public, private and voluntary sectors through access to evidence of what works, training, and sharing learning.   A condition of Cohesion Sheffield’s funding, from Paul Hamlyn Foundation, is that we share learning nationally.  A Cohesion and Integration Network, funded and supported by MHCLG, will help.  The Sheffield strategy also prioritises developing diversity of leadership that reflects the changing demographics of the city.

  • Every government department will select a number of current priority policies and services to review during this Green Paper consultation period to assess whether they exacerbate segregation and could be developed so that they actively drive integration.  This parallels Sheffield’s cohesion lens principle – that actions can enhance or unintentionally undermine cohesion, and so should be examined through the cohesion lens.

  • Places and Community.  Our vision - Everyone should feel comfortable living alongside and mixing with people from different backgrounds. We want to see vibrant communities in which everyone plays a part and for people from all backgrounds to have access to, and make use of, community hubs such as libraries, community centres, cultural venues, parks and pubs where they can come together with people from different backgrounds around shared activities. 


The Green paper proposes to do this by


  • Support for economically disadvantaged areas

  • Bringing people in the community together

  • Championing community power and rights

  • Shared community spaces

  • Shared activities through culture and sport

    Cohesion Action Plans shared with Cohesion Sheffield are already developing these activities.


  • Cathedral helping the homeless.  The Green Paper acknowledges the important work of faith groups, including cathedrals.  It showcases in a case study the Archer Project at Sheffield Cathedral.


  • We welcome the British Academy’s recent publication of a collection of case studies and examples of successful local integration initiatives.  This BA publication, “If you could do one thing…”, contains a case study of the RUBIC project funded by the Big Lottery – focused around Parkwood Academy, a partnership between Chilypep, City of Sanctuary Sheffield, MESH (Mediation Sheffield) and Who Is Your Neighbour? Project.




The Green Paper states the following expectations


Communities must


  • Play an active role in building strong, integrated communities, celebrating and building on shared local assets and strengths, as well as challenging attitudes and practices which are holding back groups or individuals or fostering division.

  • Ensure a diverse range of voices are heard, including those of marginalised groups.


Local government should


  • Take a ‘whole council’ approach to integration, developing a local vision with partners, businesses, the voluntary and community sector and communities, and mainstreaming integration objectives across policy and service delivery.


Businesses should


  • Ensure policies and practices promote the recruitment, retention and progression of employees which better reflects the makeup of the workforce.

  • Consider their wider role in promoting integration to help build strong, integrated communities, promoting the English language skills of employees, and encouraging mixed environments.


Voluntary and faith organisations should


  • Continue and enhance work in partnership with others to create strong, integrated communities, as well as calling out practices and behaviours which impede integration.

  • Share best practice with government and across the sector.




In Sheffield our co-production approach and cross sector framework puts us at the forefront in this way of working.


Mike Fitter (March 2018)





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