Globalisation and patterns of migration have resulted in “rapid changes” to Birmingham’s population, with many neighbourhoods and schools segregated by race and economic deprivation.
Britain’s second city is now described as “super diverse” as a new Birmingham City Council report admitted that the influx of people from “all over the world” had sparked fears of competition for jobs, services and limited resources and, at worst, “caused community tensions”.
The draft community cohesion strategy also declared that almost 50,000 Birmingham residents are unable to speak English as it was predicted that the West Midlands powerhouse was soon to become “a majority minority city” thanks to dwindling numbers of White British people.
Tabled at the council’s cabinet meeting this week, the report states: “Globalisation and patterns of migration has brought individuals and families from all over the world to settle in Birmingham resulting in rapid changes in neighbourhood populations. These changes in populations coupled with economic insecurity can spark fears of competition for jobs, services and limited resources – at worst causing community tensions between new and settled communities. Evidence suggests activities that promote community cohesion can help dispel fears and myths of the ‘other’ by building understanding and trust.
“In 2015, The Casey Review found segregation has reached a ‘worrying level’ in some areas in Britain with deepening inequalities. In some parts of Birmingham, we are seeing neighbourhoods and schools segregated by ethnicity and economic inequality.
“As city of many faiths, races, cultures, including a history of migration and settlement across Birmingham, we are seeing increased inter-racial and inter faith relationships, social mixing across cultures and social backgrounds. Identity is no longer confined to race and faith, but also intersecting across social and cultural identities. Community cohesion is an approach that enables us to respond to the wide ranging and kaleidoscope of identities, rather than simply focussing on historical notions of identity.”
The strategy also seemed to blame the rise of social media for the lack of community cohesion in Birmingham’s wards, claiming that “negative information” could “influence perceptions” about supposed problems.
“The increasing use of social media has meant that many people communicate with friends and family locally and across the world via computers and phones,” it adds. “These digital platforms are essential in everyday living and communication but could mean that some members of the community live more isolated lives and may have lost the time, confidence or opportunity to talk and share thoughts and concerns with others in their neighbourhood. Negative information can easily be shared via social media in a very short space of time, influencing perceptions about issues in communities, which can undermine cohesion.”
What do you think of globalisation and what it is doing to community cohesion in Britain’s second city? Birmingham City Council are running a consultation and responses can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org