How Promoting Diversity Improves Local Community

By Susie Northwood

Barton and Tredworth is perhaps most well known for its celebrated diversity. Despite being a relatively small community, there are around 50 languages spoken by over 45 different ethnic groups. In a world that is often rife with conflict between people of different beliefs or ethnicities, what is it about Barton that makes it so successful as a multicultural community? As many recent arrivals to the area have testified, having support groups, as well as venues such as the Friendship Café, have a lasting a positive impact on any new residents in the area, wherever they may be from.

Challenges and Benefits

While Barton is certainly one of the most successful examples of a truly diverse multicultural community in the UK, it isn’t without its problems, like any other community. Local gangs of drug addicts and underage prostitution are currently the major problem faced, but Barton could in fact be well equipped to deal with both addiction and anti social behaviour problems due to the nature of the community. There is significant research to show that addiction and related crime/problems can be effectively stemmed through inclusive and understanding communities. Furthermore, this approach helps to prevent the next generation falling into similar traps, through constant, inclusive support networks. Many of these networks are already in place in Barton, albeit mainly in the form of welcoming new residents from all over the world. By simply adapting these already beneficial approaches to cover a wider range of issues, there is certainly the potential to both understand the causes of, and ultimately counter, the problems currently faced. Of course, addiction is not an easy thing for both sufferers and their families to deal with, and a starting by understanding the causes of addiction, as well as the many possibilities that are available to treat and support recovering addicts is crucial. Barton is in a somewhat unique position in many ways. Thanks to the diverse range of cultures that are present, coupled with the open and flowing channels of dialogue and support that these cultures share, the foundations for strong education, information, and support are already in place.

The Real Benefits of Diversity

The groundwork for dealing with challenges also leads to many other benefits which are often exclusive to diverse, supportive multicultural communities. There are of course, the direct cultural benefits, which may manifest in a wide variety of different foods, entertainment, music, and beliefs. All of these aspects help to foster a rich and vibrant community, adding to its fabric. Perhaps however, the most crucial quality that is developed in a diverse community is that of understanding. By getting to know people from all kinds of backgrounds, beliefs, cultures and so on, a greater empathy and understanding of the many varied cultures of the world as a whole begins to take shape in both individuals and the community. Given that many of the problems faced by many people, no matter where they may be from, is often due to a lack of this empathy and understanding, the real value of Barton’s inclusive culture begins to show itself. In times when there is an increasing focus on retreating from an open, welcoming, and inclusive society from many more extreme elements and political parties, building on these positives is important not only for Barton, but the UK as a whole. The problems that Barton does face, as mentioned earlier, have somewhat unjustifiably given the area a bad reputation. While there are certainly hurdles to be overcome, the recent opening of Sainsbury’s last year, as one example, is beginning to erode these perceptions. Overall, one thing is clear. While Barton does have its problems, like any other community in any other part of the country, there are without doubt excellent building blocks in place when it comes to expanding one of the most varied, rich and culturally diverse areas in the UK. With the combined efforts of local communities, city authorities and businesses, Barton could potentially become a poster child for all the benefits that a diverse community brings. Given that the benefits of such a community outweigh any perceived negatives (which in reality will be the same negatives any community faces), it’s certainly a road worth taking.

This page was added by Paul Evans on 22/07/2014.