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Agenda item

Cohesion Sheffield - an update on city wide framework, joint strategy and area projects

Report of Dawn Shaw, Director of Libraries, Learning, Skills and Communities.



The Committee received a report of the Director of Libraries, Learning, Skills and Communities, explaining how the City Council and its partners work on building and maintaining community cohesion in the city. 




Present for this item were Angela Greenwood (Community Services Manager) and Mike Fitter (Co-Chair, Sheffield Cohesion Advisory Group).




Angela Greenwood introduced the report and stated that community cohesion was about integration and supporting existing and new people in the city and everyone getting on together, living and working with respect and consideration for each other.  Cohesion was about building and maintaining good relationships with neighbours and colleagues across the city. A successful bid for funding through the Paul Hamlyn Foundation ensured that cohesion work could continue in the city.  Angela Greenwood stated that the City Council had created a Charter of Actions to respond to the Cohesion Strategic Framework and this had been approved in October 2018 by the Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Community Safety and endorsed by the Cohesion, Migration, Integration Strategic Group.  The action plan included supporting people in their communities, listening to people by attending local meetings, giving support toasylum seekers and refugees and educating those new to Sheffield so that they understand their rights and responsibilities and to know what is and is not tolerated in the city. 




Mike Fitter referred to the cohesion grant fund which was supporting projects across the city to promote cohesion work and good community relations across the city.  He said that Sheffield Cohesion Hub was working with Compass, a charity which provided health and wellbeing services, to ascertain what makes an inclusive city, by working together in tackling injustices and creating a more equal society.




Members of the Committee made various comments and asked a number of questions, to which responses were given as follows:-




·                     The RUBIC project is funded by the Big Lottery and is focused around Parkwood Academy in the north of the city.  The Project has a whole systems approach working with a school and its feeder communities.  It aims to make connections between newly arrived migrants and more established residents in their own neighbourhoods.  It helps young refugees, new arrivals and school students to live harmoniously together, with greater understanding and respect for each other and the communities in which they live.  It helps new arrivals settle in and support one other, and it encourages local people to discuss their concerns in an open, safe and inclusive environment. By engaging with people who have been in Sheffield all their lives as well as more recent arrivals, the project aims to increase understanding and create more resilient communities.  Some   students of Parkwood Academy attended a meeting of the full Council last year and presented their story.




·                     Sheffield is a pilot city for the Place Based Approach to New Arrivals and has successfully created a Street Warden role to work in Darnall and Page Hall to assist new arrivals into those areas.




·                     It is intended to increase the use of libraries across the city with the aim of engaging with people in the heart of their communities by promoting them as a free and safe space to use and learn.  The issues highlighted at this meeting, at one of the libraries, will be looked into.




·                     One issue is that EU nationals, prior to current requirements, have not had to register in the UK, so it has been difficult to offer help and advice.  Elected Members have an idea of who is living within the community they represent and data can be picked up from GP surgeries and schools.




·                     Learn Sheffield aspires to encourage people to be better educated and the city as a whole to be better educated.  Its aim is to help schools work with each other to identify and overcome the barriers to learning for vulnerable learners and their families, including learners with English as an additional language.




·                     It is hoped to set up meetings in schools in relation to the increase in the numbers of pupils being excluded from schools, particularly those having arrived into the city with little grasp of English and many of the children struggle to get to grips with the city’s formal education system.  Schools could be opened up to the public in the evenings to address this.




·                     The findings of the “Salah effect” in Liverpool would suggest that positive exposure to out-group celebrities, has contributed to lessening anti-Muslim rhetoric and cutting hate crimes in the United Kingdom and it was hoped that lessons could be learned from this for Sheffield.




·                     Sheffield could adopt an approach, whereby children during their first year in school are supported to speak the native language.




·                     It is thought that people coming from different parts of the world benefit from being placed initially with each other, to help them feel secure and that integration into the wider community comes more successfully from being integrated as a group.




·                     People from around the world don’t necessarily understand how our GP service works within the local NHS options available and it was felt there was a need to include something in the “Welcome to Sheffield” pack offering more information on this and assist in identifying health needs.




RESOLVED: That the Committee:-




(a)       thanks Angela Greenwood, Mike Fitter and Councillor Paul Wood for their contribution to the meeting; and




(b)       notes the contents of the report and the responses to the questions raised.


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