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Empowerment

Community Cohesion

The decline of community, increasing individualism, consumerism, diminishing values, family breakdown, poor parenting and youth disorder, substance abuse, poverty, immigration, and racism are seen as the 10 major evils in modern society (bulleted below).  100 years ago, the major evils were identified as poverty, war, slavery, intemperance, opium, impurity and gambling. (JRF)   

The media, global business, government and religion are blamed for either helping to create, or failing to tackle society’s woes. 

  • A weakened sense of both local & wider community and neighbourliness, people not looking out for each other or even not knowing each other, creates isolation, loneliness and fear.
  • Individualism has resulted in a decline in people’s consideration of the overall needs of society and their individual impact on that.          
  • Money and owning are today’s benchmark, with success measured in having more than we really need.
  • Absence of the shared values which emphasise that equality, human rights and mutual respect go hand-in-glove with individual & collective responsibility.
  • Family breakdown results in low priority in fairness, firmness and consistency.
  • Ineffective parenting leads to inconsistency whereby our young people lack clear non- negotiable guidelines and baby/mother bonding and parenting skills must be prioritised.
  • Injurious substances are treated too liberally, and their relationship with crime and anti-social behaviour are not adequately emphasised.
  • Poverty limits choice, freedom and autonomy -  exacerbating class division through exclusion.
  • Issues around immigration and racism reflect a complete lack of awareness of the imperative of our common humanity.

Related essentials

  • Stakeholders recognise that community cohesion is a multi-faceted concept, requiring cross-cutting, multi-pronged and integrated approaches.
  • Cohesion relates to and depends on encouraging positive relationships between all groups.
  • Reducing residential and educational segregation is key to encouraging interaction and cohesion.
  • Socio-economic well-being and empowerment must reflect an emphasis on underlying factors such as immigration, the economy and related labour market and housing policy.
  • Importance to recognise any structural factors that affect individual choice as well as the need for inclusive policy relating to employment and service access.
  • The role of participation and engagement / interaction is essential as an indicator of and catalyst for cohesion.
  • Neutral ‘safe’ spaces are essential prerequisites for cohesion to thrive.
  • Common civic values and a common awareness and acceptance of rights and responsibilities must build a sense of communality around issues defined at local level.
  • Challenges and misunderstandings can arise if there are not user-friendly definitions that reflect the full range of tangible outcomes and mechanisms relevant to any debate.
  • Different professions who contribute to the quality of community life must be integrated to achieve effective relationships between government and communities.
  • Engagement can range from simple consultation through multi agency partnerships.
  • Events should be in accessible buildings with interpreting services available as required.
  • All community planning activities have a statutory duty to genuinely engage with people and communities.
  • Any difficulty in participation, including in the democratic process should be enabled by appropriate support.
  • It is essential there be continual monitoring of  representation and especially from minority/vulnerable groups.
  • Secularism – the idea that our politics can and should be structured without recourse or privilege to any religious faith or philosophical belief – is currently represented only by Liberals. 

RMcL 8/09