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Faith leaders join together to discuss social integration in Newham

21 June 2019 in Community neighbourhoods and Council and democracy and Mayor
More than 100 faith leaders, representing Newham’s diverse communities, united at a special event.
Faith leaders from across Newham at event
​The purpose of the event, held at Old Town Hall Stratford and organised by Newham Council, was centred on the idea of social integration and how attendees could help bring people together in the borough. 

Councillor Canon Ann Easter hosted the event as part of her new role as Commissioner for Interfaith and Inter-religious Dialogue.

Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and Christians were among the many communities represented at the event which was also attended by the Met Police and the Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE). 

Social integration is defined as the extent to which people positively interact and connect with others who are different to themselves. It is determined by the level of equality between people, the nature of their relationships and their degree of participation in the communities in which they live. 

At the event, Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz announced plans to introduce a social integration strategy, which would be shaped by the views of local faith leaders.  

She said: “Newham is a unique and amazing place – it is one of the most diverse places in the country if not the world. For a community as diverse as Newham, social integration is essential. This is not some fluffy feel good policy. It is evidence based and goes right to the heart of what the council is for - which is promoting the wellbeing of residents. 

“Our social integration strategy will help balance those important inward-looking cultural networks with wider engagement. Those who were "the other" can then become colleagues, neighbours, acquaintances and even friends. We are currently facing big social changes and challenges. We have a duty to ensure London remains an open welcoming world city and we need to ensure communities are cohesive and integrated so that can deal with those challenges.”

Newham Council has already taken steps to promote social integration. Last year, the council held a big Christmas dinner which brought people from across the community together. This Saturday, the council will celebrate National Windrush Day at an event where all communities are invited to come together to recognise the great contribution the Windrush generation has made to Newham and the country. 

The strategy will prioritise dialogue between faiths and equality, diversity and inclusion. It will also link with the draft Newham cultural strategy and work currently being carried out into Community Wealth Building. This is where economic development is focused inwards into the community, realising the potential of the residents, local businesses, and the voluntary sector within it. 

It will also look at how the public services provided by the council can contribute to greater social integrate, for example the offer to new parents through the Best Start in Life Guarantee and through a review of the job brokerage scheme Workplace. 

To further develop the strategy, more engagement events will be held with faith and community leaders over the summer.