Creating a more engaged community where residents can enjoy a better quality of life is at the heart of a new Social Integration strategy approved this week by Newham Council’s Cabinet.
Social integration is about how the people of Newham live; how we can support a more proactive and engaged community, and how the Council can help achieve better links between residents to improve quality of life for all.
The Social Integration Strategy introduces a new way for Newham Council to approach issues of equality and support the health, wellbeing and happiness of residents.
Improving social integration is hugely important to the council, as it can have a real influence on the nature of relationships between residents – and a direct impact on levels of community participation in our democratic processes.
Mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz OBE, said: “Amidst the enormous challenge of Covid-19, we have seen the emergence of something of real value and beauty for our borough – with people coming together in ways that too many may have felt almost impossible beforehand.
“So many residents have stepped forward to offer support to their local communities, to help protect the most vulnerable from the virus, and to help save lives.
“This outpouring of goodwill and kindness towards each other shows that it is possible for us to harness this power to support one another and bring about lasting positive changes in our communities and in people’s lives.
“Through the Social Integration Strategy, we will help to support a transformation that strengthens our voluntary, community and faith sector (VCFS), working in partnership with the Council to continue to transform our neighbourhoods for the better, bringing people together in the spirit of collaboration so that everyone can thrive.”
As part of the strategy, the Cabinet agreed to explore additional support for community language translation for Newham residents and community groups to support better communications between the Council and its people, and strengthen inclusivity.
Key objectives of the strategy include:
- Demonstrating that Newham Council will ‘put people at the heart of everything we do’ by creating a fair and socially inclusive borough
- Creating a robust partnership with Newham’s voluntary, community and faith sector to work together on issues of equality and inclusivity
- Delivering resident engagement activities across the council to embed social integration
- Breaking down barriers and inequalities faced by residents to help create a rich and connected community
The strategy will be grassroots driven, with the council focused on offering support and facilitating community-led activity, not leading from the top.
There will be a review of a range of existing council services to identify where there is scope to increase social inclusion, for example using translation services and improving access to library resources for residents where English is not their first language.
Mayor Fiaz added: “A lack of English language proficiency presents major barriers to social integration. The recent response to tackling the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the need for language translation support to be more available across the borough. We are reviewing this as a priority as it has been identified as a major barrier to encouraging participation and inclusion in community life.”