The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham has experienced some of the most rapid demographic changes of anywhere in the UK. In just 20 years, like much of East London, its predominantly white working-class community has become a multi-ethnic borough. Over the same period it has seen sporadic bursts of support for far-right political parties, and most recently it was one of just five London boroughs to vote to leave the European Union.
Understanding residents’ attitudes to immigration, integration and changing communities is the aim of a qualitative research collaboration now underway between the Policy Institute at King’s and Dame Margaret Hodge, the long-serving Labour MP for Barking and Visiting Professor at the Institute.
Researchers on the study are carrying out 100 interviews with Barking and Dagenham residents to better understand their experience of change and diversity, and to root this in a wider evidence base on building tolerance and inclusion.
Funded by the Trust for London and the City Bridge Trust, the project’s aims are to identify the barriers to cohesion and integration, as well as interventions that could help break down those barriers and bring about greater cohesion and integration at all levels – neighbourhood, local authority and across London.
Building on King’s central London location at the heart of the global policy conversation, the Policy Institute is ideally placed to link its insightful research with rapid, relevant analysis to stimulate debate and shape future policy agenda on what is a crucial issue affecting many London communities.
The research collaboration with Dame Margaret – who has referenced her own experiences as the daughter of Jewish refugee immigrants – brings her knowledge of the political process and her deep-rooted engagement with her local constituency to academic research that is intended to have real impact on the people of Barking and Dagenham and beyond.
Read more about King's Policy Institute here.