Community cohesion: Stop the “siege mentality” in Sheffield communities, warn council chiefs

Sheffield Town Hall.
Sheffield Town Hall.

Minority groups in Sheffield are being used as scapegoats as people adopt a “siege mentality”, warn council bosses.

Sheffield Council has spent the past three years working on a Community Cohesion strategy which is a wide ranging new report. This is part of a series of stories looking at this strategy.

A report by Angela Greenwood, community services manager at Sheffield Council, says supporting people and communities to live in harmony with respect for each other is an ongoing process and needs to continue as communities change and develop.

The report says: “Some communities will need specific help, such as practical support with their infrastructure or help to engage with community and cultural activities. Other communities may need support to develop their own voice and activities.

“Our actions will also be a means of preventing escalation towards scapegoating of vulnerable people, hate crimes and antisocial behaviour.

“Austerity and increasing financial inequalities are undermining cohesion. Many people are poorer and have become fearful of change. The tendency is to look for who is to blame.

“It produces what has been described as siege mentality and the stranger, the unknown other, the migrant, and other discriminated against groups, are being scapegoated.

“We need to acknowledge scapegoating is happening and challenges prejudice in a way that engages and informs.”

Targeted actions will be led by the council’s new joint Housing and Police ASB/community safety team.

The council worked with voluntary, community and faith organisations on the new strategy and the result was an in-depth report called Sheffield Together: The Sheffield Cohesion Framework.   

The full report can be read here:

http://democracy.sheffield.gov.uk/documents/s32561/Cohesion%20Charter%20Report.pdf