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Blog: Integration: We Think We Might Have Found The Answer!
By Daniel Singleton
What makes a Briton and a ‘British value’ is the thorniest of issues, but whether we agree with current government policy or not, we can agree that speaking English is a key entry point for anyone who is to integrate within the United Kingdom today. That’s why, amid the cries back and forth over the Casey review, we must not miss some of the key things we have already learned about how to build a stronger society. Sir Eric Pickles, when he was Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), put it most succinctly: “If you can’t speak English you can’t join in!” This has been a principle many of us have faced when on a foreign holiday and the conversation around turns away from English - and you realise you are no longer a full part of the scene. However, language is not the full story: you can lay on English classes in fine establishments, but not connect with the people who need them most. You can teach the best technical language possible and find that none of your students speaks English outside the class. A proper English language strategy needs to include ‘reach’…
Blog: Be who you are—don’t just fit in!
By Anne Smith
All human beings need a sense of belonging. It is integral to our well-being. A lack of belonging underpins the divisions in UK society that the Casey Review has identified. Segregation, deprivation and social exclusion are both the source and the consequence of failing to feel that we belong. Integration is a two stage process. Migrants and refugees settling in the UK must have an understanding of services and systems, and the language to engage with them, to achieve functional integration into society. This access is important in addressing inequalities. However, is this enough? To belong, you have to have an emotional connection. ‘Fitting in’ to external patterns of behaviour is often taken as an indicator of belonging but can actually increase the sense of alienation an individual feels. If you can do the activity but still feel isolated, or if you can do it but feel like you have to compromise your identity in a way you don’t feel comfortable with, it won’t make you feel like you belong. There is a need for functional integration, where someone is able to access services and opportunities, as they wish, but equally important is the deeper emotional connection where you feel…
Blog: Bullying is not ‘just banter’
By Daniel Singleton
“It’s nothing to do with you. What you getting involved for?”, he said as he squared up to me. A couple of weeks ago, it was Anti-Bullying Week. Like mental health issues, which affect one in four of us, bullying affects many of us at some point of our lives. As parents, it is very hard to watch your child face this most cruel of ‘rites of passage’ – and thankfully we no longer accept bullying as an inevitable experience of childhood. Adrian Mitchell’s powerful poem ‘Back in the playground blues’ describes the seeming inevitability of bullying and victimisation, and the sense of impotence on all sides: “Got a mother and a father they're one thousand years away The rulers of the Killing Ground are coming out to play” Maybe this was why I found myself in a somewhat awkward situation with a number of young people who seemed bent on conflict, outside that paragon of civilisation John Lewis, in Stratford. The genteel backdrop to this exchange did nothing to dispel the very real survival of the fittest and rule of the jungle that I faced. A couple of minutes previously, I had walked out of the shop into the…
Blog: UK faith leaders launch call for UK Government to take critical action on violence against women
By IC Change (Guest Author)
Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh and Hindu faith leaders gathered in the House of Lords to launch a joint call for UK Government to ratify the Istanbul Convention on violence against women – and for MPs to support the Istanbul Convention Private Member’s Bill (PMB) by voting for it on 16 December. The gathering, hosted by Lord McColl and organised by the IC Change campaign for the UK’s ratification of the Istanbul Convention, Restored and FaithAction, builds on faith leaders’ declaration against domestic abuse launched in 2015. This call from faith leaders comes when on average two women in England and Wales are killed every week by a current or former male partner and 85,000 women are raped and more than 400,000 sexually assaulted each year. Violence against women and girls takes many forms and is widespread in the UK. The Convention - aptly described as ‘the best thing you’ve never heard of’ - is a set of life-saving minimum standards on tackling violence against women for a State’s response to the epidemic. If the UK Government ratified the Istanbul Convention, it would bring unprecedented positive change for women and girls - protecting and supporting women experiencing violence, prosecuting those responsible,…
Britain's Faith Leaders Launch UK-Wide Call to Help Prevent Violence Against Women
Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Jewish and Hindu leaders met at the House of Lords yesterday, 5 December, to launch a public call for the UK Government to make the Istanbul Convention on violence against women law in the UK. As part of their statement, faith leaders have also called on MPs to support a Private Member’s Bill (PMB) which would require the Government to ratify the Istanbul Convention. The IC Change #ChangeHerstory campaign are asking MPs to attend the debate and vote in its favour during the bill’s second reading on 16 December. 100 MPs must vote to ensure the bill passes to the next stage. If the bill is successful, it would result in the strongest legal frameworks for the protection of women and girls in British political history. By ratifying the Istanbul Convention, the Government would by law commit themselves to provide women's services like shelters, rape crisis centres, and 24/7 helplines and stronger prosecution services. In addition essential prevention measures would be provided such as education in schools and training for professionals - to stop violence from happening in the first place. The convention covers different forms of violence, including domestic abuse, rape, sexual harassment, female genital mutilation,…