Leeds, United Kindom - Intercultural City
As the regional capital of Yorkshire and Humber, the largest county in the UK, Leeds is situated at the heart of the country. With the beauty of the Yorkshire Dales on its doorstep and around 4,000 hectares of green space, the city is one of the greenest places to live in Europe. Having played a pioneering role in the industrial revolution, Leeds City Region has since rapidly developed to become the largest contributor to UK GDP in the Northern Powerhouse, as well as the largest regional economy outside London. With a rich history of being a place of refuge to a diverse population, migrant communities from 170 nationalities around the world continue to contribute immensely to the cultural, civic and economic success of this vibrant and modern city.
With a population of over 790,000, Leeds is the third biggest city in the UK. Leeds’ non-UK born population makes up 12.6% of this number, doubling since 2001. The higher-than-average adolescent population of Leeds is particularly diverse with 20.5% of school children citing English as an additional language, and non-white British as an ethnicity making up 34.7% of this age group. The countries with the highest levels of migration to Leeds in 2018 include Romania (1340 arrivals), India (600), Italy (470) and Poland (461). Whilst immigration levels in both Leeds and the wider UK have fallen since 2016, it proudly remains a city of sanctuary and equality of opportunity, with integration at the heart of a multi-cultural agenda.
As part of its aim to be the best city in the UK by 2030 and an active commitment to the principle of ‘inclusivity for all’, Leeds has developed a strategic, co-ordinated and inclusive approach to migration which sees diversity as a key to the continued development of the city. By ensuring that the contribution of migrants is valued and celebrated and their voice is at the heart of the agenda this will enable Leeds to continue building strong, cohesive, resilient and sustainable communities.
The development of an anchor network as part of the Leeds Inclusive Growth Strategy enables the council to take an active leadership role in the migration agenda, with collaborative partnerships fundamental to its successful delivery. Our commitment to cross-sector partnership has meant that our work on the EU Settlement Scheme has delivered the highest number of applications in Yorkshire. A joint collaboration between Leeds City Council and Migration Yorkshire driven by the Councils Equality Improvement Priorities is of notable success. These priorities include living safely and well, valuing communities, enjoying culture and sport, inclusive access and language access, improving representation and allowing everyone to achieve their potential.
To tackle the causes of extremism Leeds employs the PREVENT strategy, safeguarding those most at risk of radicalisation and disengaging those already involved. At the heart of the agenda is a commitment from statutory and community partners to work collaboratively in order to address key vulnerabilities and risks in pursuit of a stronger and more resilient city. This work is particularly important given the rise and emergence of divisive narratives that seek to sow discord within our communities. Leeds is also proud to be co-leading the Special Interest Group in Counter Extremism (SIGCE) alongside Luton Borough Council. SIGCE brings together councils in England and Wales, as well as the Local Government Association, Coventry University and the Home Office, to enhance the capacity of councils and their partners to meet the challenges of extremism and intolerance. By providing a task oriented network to enable peer-to-peer learning and the sharing of resources this enables the development of good practice to be promoted through local authority led guidance.
Ensuring that the Council is at the heart of the community in the most deprived neighbourhoods is achieved through Community Hubs, Community Connectors and Community Committees creating a more integrated service approach based on need and deprivation. Further partnerships between the Leeds Strategic Migration Board and the Leeds Migration Partnership form a collaborative network that helps to secure support to migrant communities, maximising their contribution to the cities overall success. Strategic support of connections with the thriving Third Sector and small community associations are paramount to accomplishing these aims and create a joint service of delivery that supports the most diverse and hard to reach groups in our city, playing a vital role in seeking the best possible outcomes for all communities.
The intercultural commitment in Leeds can be highlighted by our participation in Refugee week for over 20 years, in recognition of the continued contribution refugees make to our society. Leeds is also home to the oldest West Indian Carnival in Europe, celebrating its 50th year in 2017. We proudly commemorated National Windrush Day in June this year, celebrating the many contributions the Caribbean community has made to British society. In continued recognition of Windrush in October 2019 we launched the Windrush Trail, recognising places of significance in the city with blue plaques where this community has made a fundamental difference in Leeds.
Cllr James LEWIS