Investing in social cohesion increases confidence to challenge hate speech

Author: Belong Network
Published: July 14, 2021

A new report by Belong highlights how participants in projects focused on increasing social cohesion reported substantial increases in confidence to challenge prejudice and hate speech.

‘Together, We Can Achieve Unity’, released today (Thursday 15 July 2021), explores the shared learning and best practice examples from nine organisations that delivered projects focused on increasing social cohesion during the Covid-19 pandemic. They were funded under the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s (MHCLG) Race, Faith and Hate Crime Programme 2020-21.

Almost 50,000 people across England participated in activities. Many reported substantial increases in:

  • openness towards other people
  • trust in people from different backgrounds and groups
  • increased knowledge about faith and race-based prejudice and discrimination

The activities brought together people of different faiths, ethnicities, genders, sexualities, ages and incomes, primarily online, at a time when there were severe restrictions on social interaction. Organisations used online showcases and events, and raised awareness on social media, to provide access to their initiatives and to connect with an even broader audience.

In addition, having taken part in these activities 90-95% of young people are more able to recognise prejudicial or discriminatory behaviour, and are more knowledgeable about what hate crime is.

The paper makes practical recommendations for organisations delivering social cohesion projects as society adapts to living with Covid-19. This includes increased partnership working, blended delivery models, reaching those who are digitally excluded, practical methods for embedding knowledge and skills in communities, and empowering individuals to continue the work.

The organisations represented in this paper have achieved excellent outcomes against the considerable challenge of delivering social mixing programmes during a pandemic. However in order to achieve long lasting change funders and commissioners are encouraged to invest for the longer term to build a lasting legacy of social cohesion in local areas.

Organisations funded by the MHCLG Race, Faith and Hate Crime Programme 2020 – 21:

Anthony Walker Foundation

Manningham Housing Association

New Vic Theatre

Newcastle United Foundation

Solutions Not Sides

The Anne Frank Trust

The Faith & Belief Forum

The English Football League Trust

Youth Sport Trust