New community cohesion strategy to be discussed by executive board

Leeds, Leeds Star

A strategy setting out how Leeds City Council aims to improve access to opportunity and foster good community relations is set to be discussed by senior councillors at executive board this week.

The report, submitted to the council’s executive board on 21 September 2016, will consider how the local authority is proposing to help inspire trust and confidence across the city’s diverse communities, engaging with people from all backgrounds, ethnicities, faiths and ages, to bring communities in Leeds closer together.

Already proud of Leeds’ reputation as a welcoming and compassionate city and as a city of sanctuary, the council wants to work with a growing and increasingly diverse population in Leeds to access opportunities, address inequalities, and be more involved in their local community and contribute to the civic life of the city. The Strong and Resilient Communities project builds on a huge amount of positive work that is already taking place in communities whilst also acknowledging that there is still more that we can do together. The city’s already established community committees will play a central role in working closely with partners and community leaders to encourage and promote mutual respect and understanding and create a shared sense of pride and belonging.

Marginalisation of communities can lead to a potential vulnerability for some to extremist messages and confronting extremist behaviour continues to be a priority for the council. The report also sets out how this specific issue will be tackled working more preventatively with and alongside local communities. The project will be underpinned by five core priorities; Instilling a sense of belonging and pride in being a citizen of Leeds; Improving community resilience and sustainability; Developing capacity and leadership within communities; Raising the aspirations of communities and widening access to economic opportunity; Improving our understanding of our local communities; and providing more targeted support to those that may be considered more vulnerable to extremist narratives.

For a full copy of the executive board report, please see: http://democracy.leeds.gov.uk/documents/s150112/Strong%20Resilient%20Communities%20Report%20010916.pdf

Councillor Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council’s executive member for communities said:

“We want every resident, regardless of their background, ethnicity or faith to be proud and feel fully engaged in the life of our city, and to also have the confidence that they can make a real positive difference, not just in their own communities, but to Leeds as a whole.

“The challenge for the council is how we can engage and ensure that the voices of all people in our communities are being heard and that they are not missing out on the opportunities which are available to others in the city. That’s why we are refreshing our approach to cohesion. We are determined to tackle extremism in all of its forms head on which is why we have brought our cohesion and Prevent programme together. Through a more targeted and intensive approach, we will looking at ways in which we can break down barriers and misconceptions that can sometimes exist between communities and people of different backgrounds, targeting a range of complex social issues that can sometimes make people more vulnerable to the messages of extremists.”

Notes to editors:

The Leeds Prevent programme has been in place since 2007. The programme seeks to work with communities to develop community led solutions with help to improve confidence and build community resilience.