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    • Westminster council to ban supersize new homes November 13, 2018
      London borough’s 150 sq metre limit aims to inspire building of more affordable propertiesWestminster city council is to ban new supersize properties built for oligarchs and other members of the global elite in order to free up space for more affordable homes for “real people”.The council, which includes the areas of Mayfair, Knightsbridge and Belgravia, sai […]
      Rupert Neate Wealth correspondent
    • Rule changes 'risk new social housing black hole' in England November 13, 2018
      Shelter says plans create ‘get-out clause’ for developers to avoid providing affordable homesA proposal designed to speed up the creation of new homes in England risks “supercharging” a get-out clause allowing developers to build properties without providing social housing, the charity Shelter has said.The government has proposed new rules that would allow b […]
      Hilary Osborne
    • What future for Britain’s high streets? | Letters November 11, 2018
      Readers respond to news that the number of UK shops, pubs and restaurants lying empty has soared by more than 4,400 in the first six months of this yearThe plight of retailers dominates debate about the high street (Decline of the high street gathers pace as thousands of stores close, 9 November), although I can’t imagine what “decisive action … to support t […]
      Letters
    • Failure to get to grips with UK’s housing crisis | Letters November 11, 2018
      Paul Nicolson says making public spaces more beautiful should not be the top priority, Jeremy Beecham highlights concerns about Jomast, and Jerry Hodgkinson says taxpayers are subsidising Persimmon’s payroll as well as its profitsSetting up a housing commission to make public spaces more beautiful is an odd choice of priorities by a government in the midst o […]
      Letters
    • Half of young people facing homelessness denied help – report November 11, 2018
      Tens of thousands approaching UK councils for help last year got no meaningful supportMore than half of young people facing homelessness who approached their local council for help last year received no meaningful support, potentially putting them at risk of sleeping rough, violence or abuse, according to a report.More than 100,000 16- to 24-year-olds in the […]
      Patrick Butler Social policy editor
    • Ghost towers and empty spas… London housing is ridiculous | Eva Wiseman November 11, 2018
      The capital’s empty luxury aparment blocks stand as living metaphors for a once great city’s broken prioritiesAsk Siri to show you the state of London’s housing market in a single image, and she’ll confidently present you with a picture of Centre Point. Centre Point, that brutalist tower block when you come out of Tottenham Court Road tube, you know, near Pr […]
      Eva Wiseman
    • Knife crime: how teenagers cope with daily life on the front line November 10, 2018
      In the week of the 119th fatal stabbing in London, four young people tell how their lives were transformed by mentoring Taiwo Agboola, 23, Walworth Continue reading...
      Amy Walker
    • Tower recladding work to leave London residents in the cold November 9, 2018
      Blocks near Grenfell Tower to be stripped of hazardous insulation over winterHundreds of residents in London homes close to Grenfell Tower are facing a cold Christmas after council chiefs told them the cladding on two tower blocks was a “substantial” fire hazard and must be removed without delay.Residents of Adair and Hazelwood Towers received letters from K […]
      Diane Taylor
    • Councils urged to take control of regenerating their town centres November 9, 2018
      Independent review says struggling retailers cannot be relied on to prop up civic spaceThree years ago Ashford’s dated 1980s-built shopping precinct Park Mall was in a death spiral as poor sales saw retailers queue up to quit the Kent town.To stop the rot Ashford borough council stepped in and bought the struggling precinct for a six-figure sum from its owne […]
      Zoe Wood
    • Ministers pledge £2m to help English councils tackle rogue landlords November 8, 2018
      Fund works out at less than £6,000 per councilThe government is to create a £2m fund to help English councils tackle rogue landlords, after a Guardian and ITV News investigation revealed how convicted property owners are continuing to collect rents – often funded by the taxpayer – despite being ruled unfit to let out property.The response is the second move […]
      Simon Goodley
    • In search of a fairer system of taxation | Letters November 8, 2018
      Readers respond to Polly Toynbee’s suggestion that the inability to raise tax has become Britain’s political diseasePolly Toynbee’s suggestion that higher taxes for all are inevitable (The refusal to raise tax has become our national disease, 6 November) ignores numerous different approaches, changes in priorities and potential savings that could mean we can […]
      Letters
    • One of the last redoubts of the old King’s Cross | Letter November 8, 2018
      Albert Beale on the 5 Caledonian Road building of which he is a trustee, which refused to sell up as property developers transformed much of the central London locationI’ve worked at King’s Cross for close to 50 years, and lived here for a while too. I won’t be the only local who cheered when reading Suzanne Moore’s article (G2, 6 November) about how she mis […]
      Letters
    • Andy Burnham criticises 'mounting chaos' of UK's asylum system November 7, 2018
      Greater Manchester mayor threatens to stop housing ‘disproportionate’ numbers of people Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, has become the latest leader to threaten to stop housing new asylum seekers as the government came under pressure to listen to the concerns of northern communities.Burnham said there was “mounting chaos” in the government’s d […]
      Nazia Parveen North of England correspondent
    • I survived Grenfell. There is enough pain, we don’t deserve to be mocked | Natasha Elcock November 6, 2018
      The Grenfell bonfire video perpetuated falsehoods about our community. We are just Londoners trying to get byThere can be no excuse for the cruelty that was shown in that now infamous Grenfell video. It’s disgusting and vile. Unfortunately, many survivors and bereaved families endured the pain of watching people mock the trauma we all suffered that night. Th […]
      Natasha Elcock
    • Cleaning up: mobile laundry for the homeless goes international November 6, 2018
      Orange Sky vans visit parks and drop-in centres in Australia and New ZealandA mobile laundry and shower service for the homeless has begun international expansion after being inundated with requests from struggling cities around the globe.Four years ago two young Australian men saw a gap in the market and fitted out a van with a washer and dryer, driving it […]
      Eleanor Ainge Roy
    • ‘If you don’t see them, they get tipped in’: rise in rough sleepers using bins for shelter November 5, 2018
      Increase in homelessness has led to more people being found sleeping or sheltering in binsAs winter draws closer, waste containers – especially those containing cardboard – become increasingly important for rough sleepers. Binmen Jamal and Steve know this well. Every weekday, before they work their central London route, they are reminded by their depot forem […]
      Patrick Greenfield
    • 'The wrong type of development': the battle for Edinburgh's Leith Walk November 5, 2018
      Campaigners argue a proposed £50m development would demolish sandstone art deco shops, businesses and social enterprises in the Scottish capital’s historic portLike most ports, Leith has always been a place of change – and never more so than over the last 25 years.By the mid-1990s Edinburgh’s ancient dock district had become infamous as the grim, drug-addled […]
      Marianne Taylor
    • ‘A time bomb’: how social tensions are rising in a corner of northern England November 3, 2018
      Roma and British Pakistani communities are increasingly divided over problems of crime, litter and antisocial behaviourIt was an unusually heavy response to a fight in a school canteen: a police helicopter, police dog and 15 police vehicles all rushed to Fir Vale Academy in Page Hall, Sheffield, one Tuesday in late September.The drama, inevitably, was caught […]
      Helen Pidd
    • Become a hedgehog champion | Letter November 2, 2018
      We rightly hear calls for animals to be protected in other countries, but what about the wildlife on our own doorstep, asks Fay VassIt’s common knowledge that hedgehogs are in decline, and the WWF’s Living Planet report confirms that wildlife populations are plummeting (Report, 30 October). We rightly hear calls from the UK for animals to be protected and pr […]
      Letters
    • No poor people through that door – another sign of the UK’s growing class divide | Faiza Shaheen November 2, 2018
      Housing developments where only rich residents can use certain facilities are emblematic of a much bigger problemDifferent doors. Different schools. Same housing block. London and other big cities struggling to fight gentrification are becoming increasingly segregated at a very micro level. This type of cheek-by-jowl social segregation is giving birth to new […]
      Faiza Shaheen
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Welcome Exchange Launches Public Sector Outreach

Welcome Exchange is undertaking a new outreach programme to the public sector in a bid to help prevent growing community tensions and unemployment rises and the recession takes hold.

Our aim is to support community cohesion objectives through the language and cultural awareness training we currently provide to the public sector.

Welcome Exchange Ltd has worked with clients including the fire and rescue service, the police, local councils and other organisations to improve relations with the diverse communities they serve. This has entailed a unique approach to cultural awareness training we call ‘Parallel Learning’, as recently praised by the Audit Commission.

By way of example we recently delivered a programme specifically designed to help Lancashire Fire and Rescue establish better links with the Polish community. It featured a series of ten classes at which fire officers and members of the Polish community learnt key phrases, shared useful knowledge and developed a better mutual understanding.

For more information contact Vic Kureczko, Managing Director of Welcome Exchange, on 0845 880 2507.

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Protest at troops’ homecoming highlights community divisions

The Guardian today reports “Two people were arrested for public order offences after angry scenes between anti-war protesters and bystanders during a homecoming parade for 200 soldiers returning from Iraq.” You can read the story in full here.

Community relations under pressure in Northern Ireland

The murders of two soldiers and a police officer in Northern Ireland runs the risk of driving a wedge between the two communities in Northern Ireland that have been brought closer together in recent years than at any time in living memory. The Guardian carries an interesting review of recent coverage in the region and concludes “The return to killing in Northern Ireland has brought widespread revulsion across the political divide.” You can read the article here.

Community cohesion report published

The BBC reports: “The Institute of Community Cohesion (iCoCo) has made a number of recommendations calling on Waltham Forest council to continue to build on projects that reduce the prospect of isolation especially within young and ethnic minority communities in the borough.”

The report titled ‘Breaking down the walls of silence’ was launched as part of the response to challenges created within the borough following a number of alleged terror plot arrests in August 2006.

Quotes about community cohesion

“If someone comes to our country and is applying for citizenship or permanent residency they have also got to accept responsibilities. You should be able to speak the English language, you should be able to understand and speak about British cultural traditions.”
Gordon Brown, Prime Minister, 13 December 2007

“It is vital that those we welcome into the UK to work and settle here play by the rules, learn English and use our language. People who want to come to the UK permanently, or as highly skilled workers are required to speak English. Now we want to go further and insist that anyone coming to Britain to work speaks English.”
Liam Byrne, Immigration Minister, 4 January 2008

“Speaking English is the greatest asset you can possess for getting involved in your community, and getting on and doing well for yourself and your family. Research has shown that 60 per cent of people believe not speaking the language is the biggest barrier to integration. Not speaking English also reduces opportunities in the labour market by 20 per cent. That is why we need to put greater emphasis on learning English as well as ensuring a commonsense approach is applied to translation.”
Hazel Blears, Communities Secretary, 4 January 2008

Social networking online over real life relationships?

Communities Secretary Hazel Blears recently said “While social networking sites can connect us with friends all across the world, we may not know our neighbours well enough to have a cup of tea with them.” This interesting article by Paul Fox looks at the implications.