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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 British Academy examined 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 encompasses research and case studies, funded by 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.

To read the reports, click on the headings below.

10 Local actions to promote social integration

This report draws 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 offers 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 cover a range of aspects of integration (language, education, employment, social relations and political behaviour), and the drivers of integration. 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 collection includes local initiatives as well as projects based on social scientific research. 

Download the report

The integration of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers

The project was 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 are prioritised.

Download the report

Key lessons

This short pamphlet provides an overview of the project and draws together key lessons from both publications, highlighting, among other things, the two-way nature of integration. The most successful projects offer something back to the existing community. The interventions studied, and the project exercise as a whole, demonstrates that there is a huge range of effective work going on around the country, at different scales. These range from small charities, schools, universities, the police, other public sector organisations, as well as self-starter volunteers. Often these groups are working together to build effective partnerships. 

Download the report

Working group

  • Professor Anthony Heath CBE FBA, Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Director of the Centre for Social Investigation, Nuffield College, Oxford University (Chair)
  • Professor Dominic Abrams FBA, Professor of Social Psychology and Director of the Centre for the Study of Group Processes, University of Kent.
  • Ellie Greenwood, Senior Adviser, Local Government Association
  • Abdool Kara, Executive Leader, Local Services, National Audit Office, and Policy Spokesperson on Evidence Based Policy, Solace
  • Charles Loft, Senior Adviser, Local Government Association
  • Dr Maria O'Beirne, Senior Analyst, Department for Communities and Local Government
  • Ralph Scott, Research Manager, The Challenge Network 
  • Dr Hazel Wardrop, Research Manager, Equality and Human Rights Commission
  • Dr Debbie Weekes-Bernard, Policy & Research Manager, Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Get involved

Join the conversation on Twitter at @BritishAcademy_ with #Socialintegration.