MESH featured British Academy report, "If you could do one thing..."

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MESH has been featured as a case study in the British Academy's recent publication, "If you could do one thing..." Local actions to promote social integration.

The publication, supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, looks at the integration experiences of recently arrived migrants in the form of eight case studies.

The report encourages us to look beyond the headlines at some of the basic realities of those arriving here and attempting to integrate.

The themes running through the case studies in the report reflect the major themes arising from the call for evidence issued by the British Academy in Spring 2017 and describe a host of activities from many organisations.

As the report states, "many of the projects emerged from a deep-rooted commitment to and identification with the local area and promote social integration through a shared understanding of the neighbourhood, town, or region."

MESH's case study focuses on an innovative new project called RUBIC that MESH, along with four other partners, is currently delivering in north Sheffield. RUBIC partners include MESH, Chilypep, Who Is Your Neighbour, City of Sanctuary Sheffield and Parkwood Academy.

RUBIC, which stands for Respect and Understanding - Building Inclusive Communities, centres on a local secondary school, Parkwood Academy, and its catchment area. The project aims to build social cohesion and promote integration across the whole community through a series of complementary initiatives over three years. It focuses on addressing the complex forces that undermine cohesion locally, and the necessity to work together and employ different, yet complementary approaches.

Part of the challenge, as the report identifies, is that while students may receive positive messages about diversity at school, these can be challenges at home or in wider social circles:

Schools can’t manage this on their own. You have to see yourself as part of the community.
— Paul Howard, Community Liaison Officer, Parkwood Academy

"Tackling attitudes in students’ homes, as well as giving local people the opportunity to engage on a much deeper level in resolving community conflict through the community guardians scheme, has a much deeper impact than working with students alone. Parent-centred activities create the necessary atmosphere in children’s homes to help make other aspects of RUBIC, such as the young leaders programme and schools workshops, a success."

The report concludes that "without this local credibility a project like this would be impossible. The investment in evaluation, undertaken by an external evaluator working alongside the project team, effectively turns this project into a piece of action research, providing opportunities to inform future work in this community and elsewhere."

Read the full report from the British Academy.

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