Webinar: Living Together: City Strategies for Social Inclusion

February 08, 2012

Learn about strategic city-led initiatives in Antwerp (Belgium) and Waltham Forest (London borough, UK) that strengthen the capacity of city councils, civil society organisations and ordinary citizens to work together for more inclusive communities and strong democratic institutions. This webinar is supported by Open Society Foundations’ At Home in Europe Project.

Watch the Webinar Video

Webinar Resources:

Featured Good Ideas:

  • In Antwerp, the city council invited Minderhedenforum (‘Forum of Ethnic Cultural Communities’) to facilitate consultations with the city’s ethno-cultural federations, community groups and local residents to encourage dialogue and participation on local policy issues. With an eye on the upcoming local elections, the Forum promotes civic engagement through voter education and training sessions on how government works. Watch the Video Presentation.
  • In Waltham Forest, a diverse borough in east London, the city council was awarded the Beacon status for building “cohesive and resilient communities.” In a time when councils are facing tough cuts, Waltham Forest Council is finding innovative strategies to work with local voluntary organizations, minority communities, and youth leaders to accomplish their wide-reaching social cohesion agenda.Watch the Video Presentation.

Tips from our presenters:

1. Make cohesion a priority at every level and in good governance structures.
Waltham Forest renewed their Community Cohesion Strategy and made cohesion a core business for city service areas. Community cohesion is complex and requires a thorough understanding of issues and buy-in at all levels to deliver outcomes

2. Develop new partnerships with key voluntary and independent community organizations.
The city should maintain on-going engagement with community partners and enable them to identify priorities. The City of Antwerp approached an independent watchdog Minderhedenforum (‘Forum of Ethnic Cultural Communities’) to identify issues, and provide recommendations on local policy issues.

3. Research and develop evidence about community needs.
Mapping, measuring and tracking demographic change is key to interpreting and responding to the economic and social needs of your community.


Claire Witney
Community Engagement Manager, London Borough of Waltham Forest

Claire started her career in local government managing large, high-density, social housing estates and delivering physical and community renewal. She has worked in local government for over 20 years in a variety of roles. As part of the team that responded to the terrorist arrests in Waltham Forest in 2006, she led on key projects and now has responsibility for the Council’s work on community cohesion and its relationship with the local voluntary and community sector (NGOs). She also manages the Council’s corporate mechanisms for resident involvement and participation including youth engagement.

Naima Charkaoui
Director, Minderhedenforum (Forum of Ethnic Cultural Minorities)

Naima Charkaoui is the director of the Forum of Ethnic Cultural Minorities. The Minority Forum regroups most grassroots organisations of minority groups (people from migrants background, refugees, trailer dwellers) in Flanders and Brussels (Belgium). Its 16 member associations regroup some 1.500 self-organisations. The organisation aims to strengthen the position of ethnic cultural minorities in society. The Forum takes up advocacy on a wide range of antidiscrimination policy issues affecting minority ethnic cultural communities in Belgium. It also actively encourages participation of ethnic and cultural minorities in society through a number of empowerment projects with young people and adults interested in taking an active role in society and/or politics. 10 years ago Naima was one of the first to be employed at the Forum. Naima is responsible for developing strategic and advocacy frameworks at national level. She holds a master in International politics from the University of Ghent.

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