Projects and Activities
Multicultural Communities Policy Exchange Programme
JLGC hosted our first-ever Multicultural Communities Policy Exchange Programme from 3-7 July 2023. The delegation comprised officials from various cities and prefectures in Japan and visited several UK organisations including the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Manchester City Council and several London boroughs. We were also grateful for input and assistance from University of Oxford’s Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) in coordinating these visits.
JLGC was happy to welcome delegation members, including officials from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Nagoya City, Shiga Intercultural Association for Globalization, Hamamatsu Foundation for International Communication and Exchange, the Japan International Cooperation Center and CLAIR’s Yamanashi Prefecture branch. The participants work in diverse areas including support of Ukrainian refugees, child services, and support programmes for Brazilians of Japanese heritage.
The programme started in London with a visit to Islington Council. Staff at Islington Council kindly told us about their great work with diverse communities, such as the Homes for Ukraine programme and Afghan support programmes. Everyone was very interested to hear about how local authorities in London support other groups, such as those with no recourse to public funds.
The participants also visited the London Borough of Waltham Forest and heard more about their various initiatives. In particular, they were interested to learn more about the ‘No Space for Hate’ programme which targets hate speech and encourages welcoming and inclusive communities for all. Not only did the participants learn a lot about the borough’s work, they also sampled British culture through a delicious afternoon tea kindly provided by Waltham Forest.
Visits were not limited to local authorities, and the programme also explored different types of migration organisations operating in the UK. In order to learn more about the history of migration, the delegation visited the Migration Museum in Lewisham. As the museum is currently in the local shopping centre, the participants were able to see the everyday close links between community and migration. The delegation also enjoyed a talk from Migration Work CIC, a not-for-profit that works with communities and policymakers to respond to migration.
Another theme of the programme was multiculturalism and interfaith among children. A visit to Our Lady and St George Catholic Primary School and the Faith and Belief Forum provided fascinating insight into the work done to support children of all faiths and backgrounds. The participants were particularly interested to hear about school linking programmes, in which children from different faith schools meet up a few times over the period of a year to learn more about each other and break down inter-community boundaries. It was great to have the opportunity to talk to the children about their experiences and hear about the impact that programmes such as these can have on young people’s lives.
Although the delegation was pleased to visit many diverse organisations in London, it was also great to visit Manchester City Council and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to see the work being done in other areas of the country. For example, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority discussed their Equalities Panels, which are a useful example of an initiative designed to ensure that all voices are heard in policymaking.
Another highlight of the tour was a visit to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to find out more about how national government and local authorities work together in the UK. It was interesting to hear about the challenges of inter-departmental policymaking and the collaboration needed between national and local government to ensure effective policy and change. The Department of Levelling Up also shared how they work with local authorities to implement initiatives such the Homes for Ukraine programme and support for BNO passport holders from Hong Kong.
JLGC would like to thank all the hosting organisations for their warm welcome. The delegation was very happy to visit so many interesting organisations and have the opportunity to reflect on how to implement similar programmes and goals in their home organisations in Japan. The Multicultural Communities Policy Exchange Programme provided a fantastic opportunity for local officials from Japan and the UK to discuss the issues facing both countries and share ideas about how to create welcoming communities for all.