Belong Integration Conference and Launch- Thursday 10th October 2019


Join us at Belong’s first Integration Conference and Launch: Leading on Integration


You are invited to join us at Belong’s first Integration Conference: Leading on Integration and then afterwards when the Minister for Communities and Faith, Viscount Younger of Leckie will formally launch the network.

This event will take place on Thursday 10th October 2019 in Manchester. The conference taking place between 1:00pm-5:40pm and the evening Launch, 6:00pm-8:00pm.

Launch of The Belong Network: 6pm –8pm

We are delighted that The Belong Network will be formally launched by Viscount Younger of Leckie, the Minister for Communities and Faith.

We will also be hearing from Councillor Sue Murphy, deputy leader of Manchester City Council, David Jones, leader of Bury Council and portfolio holder for cohesion for Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Professor Ted Cantle, chair of the board of trustees for the Cohesion and Integration Network and a spoken word artist from Empoword, an initiative of the youth led cohesion organisation Aik Saath. Other speakers to be confirmed.

Email to reserve your place at the launch.

Belong Integration Conference: Leading on Integration

At The Belong Network our vision is a more integrated and less divided society. In these uncertain times leadership which develops connections and strengthens resilience, inclusion and a sense of belonging is more important than ever.

The Belong conference will focus on Leading on Integration. We’ll hear from peers at the frontline of leadership on integration on four key themes: Improving Places, Developing People, Measuring and Developing What Works, and Inspiring Integration through Arts and Sports.

Join us for a stimulating and inspiring afternoon of peer sharing and learning, bringing together knowledge and insight from some of the key players and experts on cohesion and integration.

Keynote speakers for plenaries include:

Professor Ted Cantle, Chair of the board of Trustees of the Cohesion and Integration Network (Belong)

Professor Dominic Abrams, Director of the Centre for the Study of Group Processes in the School of Psychology at the University of Kent, and Director of the British Academy’s Cohesive Societies programme. His research examines prejudice, discrimination, social attitudes and social change across the life course.

Penny Hobman, Deputy Head of Integration Unit, MHCLG will be sharing the learning from the Integrated Communities Strategy and Action Plan

Shalni Arora, CEO of the Savannah Wisdom Foundation will reflect on the role of the private sector in promoting and encouraging integration and cohesion

Jill Rutter, Director of Strategy and Relationships for British Future will be outlining plans for the ‘Together Coalition’

Arun Kang, Chief Executive, Sporting Equals UK will reflect on the importance of diversity and integration in sport 

A representative from Aik Saath, a youth led cohesion charity on the role of young people in promoting integration and cohesion. (Name to be confirmed)

As well as two plenary sessions, we’re running two breakout sessions over the afternoon offering delegates the chance to think about the same topic in different ways, depending on how you like to learn (interactive workshops, panel debates and facilitated round-table discussions). Delegates can attend two breakout sessions. Themes for Breakout Sessions are outlined below with details of each session. We are still confirming speakers so keep checking back for updates.


Improving Places:

Local demographics, politics, geography, transport, housing and education all shape and influence how cohesive a local place is. These sessions will bring together those involved in local place building to share their learning about developing more cohesive, resilient and strong local places.

Session 1: We hear from two of the Integration Areas on the challenges and successes of implementing a place-based approach.

Confirmed speakers:

Zahra Niazi, Integration Lead for Bradford City Council

Rebecca Ramsay, Social Integration Programme Manager, Blackburn with Darwen Council

Session 2: Community led approaches involving education and the third sector have a vital role to play in improving integration and cohesion in local places. We will hear from three ground breaking and innovative projects that are leading change at a local level.

Confirmed speakers:

Alison Taylor, Waterhead Academy in Oldham

Panni Loh, Lead at Cohesion Sheffield

Carol Gilchrist, Head of Communities, Kirklees Metropolitan Borough Council


Developing People:

How can we talk to each other about the contentious issues between and within groups and communities without harming the underlying social fabric that knits us all together? We need practitioners who can embrace complexity and nuance and tackle hot topics with skill and confidence. These two sessions will feature the work of organisations that are taking the lead in developing skills and capacity to lead change.

Session 1:

Foundation for Peace have worked across the country supporting practitioners to develop their skills for tackling difficult conversations. This workshop style session will share their tried and tested approach and methodology ‘Community Approaches to Peace’.

Confirmed Speakers:

Tim Parry and Jonathan Ball Peace Foundation

Session 2:

Working to prevent the rise of prejudice and hatred is vital in order for integration and cohesion programmes to have maximum impact. We will hear from three different initiatives working in different ways to do this:

Jill Rutter, from British Future will introduce their recent research and guidance on communications

Samra Kanwal, Near Neighbours will share the approach that Near Neighbours take to bridging divides in communities

Lin Hogan from Wigan will reflect on the impact of the Wigan New Deal co-production as an approach to local service delivery and putting local people in charge


Measuring and Developing What Works

There is some good evidence now of the benefits of ‘social mixing’ or meaningful interaction (sometimes called contact theory) for reducing prejudice and promoting empathy. Sustained meaningful contact across difference is a powerful way of reducing prejudice and promoting integration. But we still don’t know enough about what works, and how to scale and replicate initiatives that work in one place to work in another.

Session 1

In this panel discussion we will hear from the researchers and experts who have developed outcome and measurement frameworks for the Home Office Indicators of Integration and for the five Integration Areas.

Confirmed speakers:

Maria O Beirne, senior researcher MHCLG

Professor Jenny Phillimore – lead researcher and author of Indicators of Integration published by Home Office June 2019

Session 2

An increasing number of projects and programmes are using contact theory to design programmes which bring different groups together across divides. The Challenge is a social integration charity that encourages social mixing through its programmes and has developed design principles that can be applied to support the development of programmes for social mixing. This interactive workshop will take delegates through their design principles.

Confirmed workshop leader:

Jamiesha Majevadia, The Challenge


Inspiring Integration through Arts and Sports.

Integration is a task for the imagination. The arts, sports and cultural activities play a vital role in building bridges and understanding across difference. In these two sessions we will hear from organisations who are using sports and arts activities to strengthen social integration and cohesion.

Session 1

This session will focus on the role of sport in strengthening good relations across difference. We will hear from two programmes who design in for integration in their sports programmes with schools, communities and young people.

Confirmed Speakers:

Julie Robbins, Youth Sports Trust

Jane Ashworth, Streetgames 

Session 2

This session will focus on the role of the arts in strengthening good relations across difference:

Confirmed speakers:

Andy Parkinson, Wavehill Consultancy and author of the Arts Council report ‘The role of the arts and culture in place-shaping’ will chair this discussion on the role of the arts.

Yousiff Meah from Luton Tigers will talk about the role of arts and movement in building empathy and understanding

Rebecca from Odd Arts based in Manchester will share their Blame and Belonging programme supported by Manchester’s RadEqual network


To register for the conference please email

We are making a small charge for the conference to help cover costs, however if you are a Standard or Advanced member of the network you are entitled to one free place. Email and we will forward you a promo voucher to register.


Otherwise costs are as follows:

Early Bird discount: £40

Full cost: £60


We look forward to welcoming you to an inspiring and stimulating day!