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"If you could do one thing..." Local actions to improve social integration

A British Academy policy project on interventions and activities for local authority bodies, businesses and voluntary sector organisations to implement to improve social integration.

About the project

Chaired by British Academy Fellow, Anthony Heath CBE, the public policy team is launching a new project "If you could do one thing..." Local actions to improve social integration.

Over six months the British Academy will examine successful integration projects from around the UK; drawing lessons from clear evidence about methods which are proven to improve integration and result in long term cohesion in our society. We believe this work is well timed, coming as it does at a stage when the global population is shifting and Europe is witnessing changing migration patterns. 

While there exists a good body of data on social integration in the UK, little has been done previously to draw together the evidence from different sources and provide local government, business leaders and charities with practical tools to help them to tackle issues that affect their communities; our project aims to change that.

The programme will encompass research and case studies, funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, a call for evidence from local authorities and other organisations, and a report comprised of essays from leading academics and others on what Britain could be doing better to assist with integration.

This report aims to draw on the expertise and experience of academics and practitioners to suggest interventions which might be implemented at a local level by local councils, businesses or voluntary sector organisations to promote integration. Each essay will offer a simple, practical, measure to improve social integration, with the understanding that local bodies have – and are likely to continue to have - constrained resources.

Contributions will cover a range of aspects of integration (language, education, employment, social relations and political behaviour), and the drivers of integration. Chapters will focus on social integration and community cohesion in relation to migration and migrant communities of all kinds.The contributions will cover integration issues both of long-standing communities, as well as those facing newly-arrived migrants including refugees, undocumented migrants and children.

The different articles will be empirically grounded, rather than speculative, normative or politically partisan. The collection will include pieces based on practical experience of local initiatives as well as those based on social scientific research. The key objective is to highlight interventions with a practical or empirical foundation which have done or could do something positive to improve integration and community relations.

Case studies

The project will be supported by a set of case studies, funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, focusing on the integration experience of recently arrived migrants, in particular young people as well as longer-term case studies looking at how the initial experiences of migrants affect their level of integration with their communities in the longer term. Case studies of early interventions and their longterm effects will be a priority.

Who's who

The project is led by Professor Anthony Heath CBE FBA (Oxford) with the support of the British Academy Policy Team.

The project will steered by a working group including academics from the University of Oxford, University College London (UCL), the University of Manchester and the University of Kent, as well as policy experts from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), the Local Government Association (LGA), the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (Solace), and The Challenge Network.

Get involved

To facilitate the whole project, we will announce a call for evidence to invite submissions from interested stakeholders in policy, research and civil society on interventions, activities and research initiatives on integration and migration. Please email Jamiesha Majevadia (contact details further down) for more information, or to register your interest. 

Sign up for our mailing list below to find out when and how you can contribute to the call for evidence and to receive the latest blog posts and updates. Tweet to us at @britac_news with the #socialcohesion hashtag.


Jamiesha Majevadia
Public Policy Adviser 

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