Cohesion, Diversity, Equality Conference

The Runnymede Trust's Conference: Cohesion, Diversity, Equality Renewing Civil Society in Multi-Ethnic Britain was held on on 19 January 2005.
The road to race equality?

The government launched its latest strategy document on race equality - Improving Opportunity, Strengthening Society - at the Runnymede Conference 'Cohesion, Diversity, Equality' in January. In their words:
    This strategy sets out one strand of the Government's overall drive to improve fairness and opportunities for all in Britain; how we will ensure that a person's ethnicity is not a barrier to their success and how we will foster the cohesion necessary to enable people from minority and majority communities to work together for social and economic progress.

For the 500 delegates the conference offered an opportunity to quiz Charles Clarke (Home Secretary) and Fiona Mactaggart (Parliamentary Under Secretary for Race Equality, Community Policy, and Civil Renewal) about the new strategy and consider its impact on their work. The strategy gathers together a range of existing initiatives, reporting on progress, and extends our understanding of the direction the government is prioritising in moving forward.

The proceedings of the conference, including ministerial speeches and responses from Trevor Phillips (Chair, Commission for Racial Equality) and Professor Bhikhu Parekh (Chair, Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain), are presented in the March issue of the Runnymede Bulletin as well as on the interactive programme below.

The strategy is intended to concretise activity, and move from 'warm words' on race equality and cohesion to specific and measurable action. Developed from the broad-ranging consultation Strength in Diversity, which set out some of the challenges faced when making policy in this area, the resulting strategy sets targets for change in what, by its analysis, are the key areas of government influence. In particular, it sets a 'comprehensive cross-government Public Service Agreement target to monitor and reduce race inequalities between 2005 and 2008'.

While the Home Office is the originator and guarantor of the Public Service Agreement targets, the application is spread across all departments:

  • better targeting of the Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant in education
  • efforts to reduce the employment gap for many minority ethnic communities
  • action on mental health for African-Caribbean communities
  • reduction of overcrowding in housing for Bangladeshi communities
  • activity to improve the relationships between the police and minority ethnic communities
  • youth services to be developed with a specific focus on increasing community cohesion
  • establishment of a Citizenship Day to celebrate the diversity of local and national communities

These are all steps that have been called for over a long period by communities and activists, and many have been announced before. The difference that the strategy could make is that by bringing these activities together and ensuring that targets are met, the government has focused on delivery of change. In order for the focus to remain real and the strategy to be effective, there is an onus on practitioners and policymakers, activists and researchers to hold the government to account.

It is significant that alongside the publication of the strategy and the upbeat discussions held at the conference about the future, the government also published Race Equality in the Public Services. This document is a reminder that there is a hill to climb to make our society more just, more cohesive and more equal. In their policy seminars (also published in summary form on this website and in the March Bulletin) delegates reminded us of the challenges and their resolve to ensure that the government's strategy becomes more than just another policy paper.

Use the programme below to navigate through the speeches and presentations of the day


10.00-10.05 Introduction
Dr Samir Shah OBE, Chair, Runnymede (see above introduction)
10.05-10.45 Keynote speech:
Launching the government's report Improving Opportunity, Strengthening Society: The Government's strategy to increase race equality and community cohesion. (Click here to go to the Home Office website, a pdf version of this report is available to download.)
Keynote speeches:
  • Rt Hon Charles Clarke MP, Home Secretary introduces the report.

  • Click here to view speech in pdf format (pdf 168kb).
  • Fiona Mactaggart MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary for Race Equality, Community Policy, and Civil Renewal, Home Office expounds some of the detail.

  • Click here to view speech in pdf format (pdf 280kb).
    Click here to view presentation in html
  • Session Chair: Dr Samir Shah OBE, Chair, Runnymede
  • Includes a brief Q&A session with the Home Secretary

  • Click here to view First Question & Answer Session in pdf format (pdf 240kb).
    10.45-11.00 This is Where I Live Virtual Exhibition & Teaching Resource Launch
    This is Where I Live is an innovative citizenship project providing young people with a platform to express their views through the arts on heritage and identity, belonging, prejudice and discrimination, and the future. This session will screen the 5 minute film of the project, outline the key themes, and introduce the young musicians who wrote, performed and produced the title theme song.
    Click here to view the musicians
    Go to the TIWIL page to read more
    11.00-11.30 Response to the Keynote Speech
  • Respondent: Trevor Phillips, Chair, Commission for Racial Equality

  • Click here to read speech in pdf format (pdf 256kb).
  • Session Chair: Dr Samir Shah OBE, Chair, Runnymede
  • Includes a Q&A session with Trevor Phillips and Fiona Mactaggart MP

  • Click here to view Second Question & Answer Session in pdf format (pdf 236kb).
    12.00-13.30 Parallel sessions (five seminars and one panel debate)
    Panel debate
    What is the role of the media in promoting race equality and community cohesion?
  • Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Columnist, The Independent
  • Deidre Forbes, Editor, The Voice
  • Chris Elliott, Managing Editor, The Guardian

  • Chair: Clive Jones, Chief Executive of ITV News & Runnymede Trustee
    Click here to read the Media Panel debate in pdf format (pdf 188kb).
    Policy into practice seminars
    These five seminars allowed delegates to reflect directly on the new strategy and consider the implications for their work and for civil renewal. Each seminar addressed the strategy's three key themes: tackling inequalities and opening opportunities for all; building an inclusive sense of citizenship and cohesive communities; and, eradicating racism and extremism. Speakers have been chosen to represent a policy/academic insight and practitioner experience.
  • Alan Riddell, Neighbourhood Renewal Unit
  • Gerard Lemos, Partner, Lemos & Crane
  • Noelette Hanley, London Development Officer, Irish Traveller Movement in Britain

  • Chair: Ted Cantle CBE, Associate Director, IDeA
    Click to view details of the session in pdf format (pdf 124kb).
    Click to read Noelette Hanley's speech in pdf format (pdf 96kb).
  • Sharon Grant , Commission for Public and Patient Involvement in Health
  • Shun Au, Chair of the Chinese Mental Health Association

  • Chair: Dr. Richard Stone, Vice-Chair, Runnymede
    Click to view details of the session in pdf format (pdf 168kb).
    Click to view Sharon Grant's presentation in html.
    Click to view Shun Au's presentation in html.
  • Professor Alan Dyson, University of Manchester, Author of Extended Schools Pathfinder evaluation
  • Keith Ajegbo, Headteacher, Deptford Green School

  • Chair: Sahsi Sivaloganathan, Vice-Chair, GTCE
    Click to view details of the session in pdf format (pdf 100kb).
    Click to view Keith Ajegbo's presentation in html.
    Click to view Prof Dyson's presentation in html.
  • Professor Shamit Saggar , University of Sussex
  • Annmarie Dixon-Barrow, CEO, Fullemploy & Minority Matters Recruitment
  • Colin Meah, Sainsburys Store Manager (Bolton New) & Member of Oldham United

  • Chair: Naina Patel, Director, Policy & Research Institute on Ageing and Ethnicity
    Click to view details of the session in pdf format (pdf 44kb).
    Click to view Prof Saggar's presentation in html.
    Criminal justice system
  • David Reardon, Home Office
  • Elena Noel, Hate Crimes Project Manager, Southwark Mediation
  • Maqsood Ahmad, Director of Diversity and Confidence & Liz Dixon, Diversity Training and Development Officer, London Probation

  • Chair: Sarah Isal, Senior Research and Policy Analyst, Runnymede Trust
    Click to view details of the session in pdf format (pdf 52kb).
    Click to read Elena Noel's speech in pdf format (pdf 84kb).
    Click to view Liz Dixon's presentation in html.
    13.30-14.30 Lunch
    14.30-14.45 Special guest speaker: Paul Elliott

    Introduced by Pat Younge, Head of Programmes & Planning BBC Sport & Runnymede Trustee
    Click to read Pat Younge's intro in pdf format (pdf 56kb).
    Click to read Paul Elliott's speech in pdf format (pdf 76kb).
    14.45-16.15 Plenary panel ('Question Time' format)

    Can the government's strategy on race equality and community cohesion underpin civil renewal in multi-ethnic Britain? And responding to submitted in advance by members of the audience
  • Fiona Mactaggart MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary for Race Equality, Community Policy and Civil Renewal, Home Office
  • Dr Beverly Malone, General Secretary, Royal College of Nursing
  • Iqbal Sacranie, Secretary General, Muslim Council of Britain
  • Michelynn Laflèche, Director, Runnymede
  • Rita Patel, Director, Belgrave Baheno
  • Derrick Anderson, CEO, Wolverhampton
  • Kieran Poynter, Senior Partner, Price Waterhouse Coopers

  • Session Chair: Jeremy Vine
    Click to read short intro to Question Time in pdf format (pdf 92kb).
    Click to read the full debate in pdf format (pdf 220kb).
    16.15-16.30 Concluding comments
  • Professor Bhikhu Parekh FBA

  • Click to read Prof Parekh's speech in pdf format (pdf 132kb).
    16.30-18.00 Drinks reception
  • Performance by the poet Jean 'Binta' Breeze


    Photographers Benedict Hilliard and Pierrick Williamson

    Jean 'Binta' Breeze gives a magnificent performance of selections from her poetry repertoire in the marble hall of the Congress Centre, as an uplifting conclusion.

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