Cohesion Minister Shahid Malik has called on councils to put community cohesion at the heart of their services.
His comments marked the publication of new guidance on how cohesion can be built into services such as housing, schools, services for old people, recreation and culture.
The guidance gives advice on how councils and their partners can embed shared values and promote cohesion in everything they do.
Mr Malik said: “Challenges to cohesion do exist and there are those who try to undermine our commonality and our shared values.
“We, therefore, need to tackle head-on the sense of unfairness and disaffection that is alienating parts of our community.
“Promoting cohesion should never be an optional extra. This guidance explains how local councils and their partners can promote community cohesion and embed shared values in everything that they do.”
The new guidance also suggests how best to ensure that it is part of the council’s day-to-day work - the importance of training frontline staff, reviewing current structures and working with partners including local media, voluntary groups and local employers.
The guidance highlights those councils that have set the standard including:
- Buckinghamshire providing cohesion training for all new staff as a key element of their induction, ensuring that they understand the council’s commitment to cohesion
- Leicester asking each of its key services to set out how they were supporting the delivery of cohesion, this identified good practice, gaps in provision and encouraged each area to think of more that it could do
- Lancashire consulting its staff to develop both a guide to mainstreaming cohesion and an AtoZ of ways to build cohesion, which it then used to share good practice
- South Tyneside and Gateshead councils consulting local communities in the Building Schools for the Future programme and working with local schools to develop a charter for engaging pupils, staff, parents and the wider community
- Waltham Forest working with local voluntary groups to set up the Leyton Orient Community Sports Programme which provides sports opportunities for young people to help tackle knife, gun and gang crime
- Barking and Dagenham training its frontline staff so they have the knowledge, skills and techniques to talk to people about how resources are allocated and address myths
- In Plymouth, the Police giving responsibility to youths for a firework display, so they learn new skills
- In Old Ford, London the Housing Association winning an award for its work to build cohesion by bringing together people from different backgrounds on its residents committees and in the course of activities it runs