A Shared Vision for London

by St Pauls Institute

Posted: 29 Jun 2016

During the spring of this year, St Paul's Institute hosted a series of events which focused on building a shared vision for London that would promote the best aspects of this global city whilst looking to overcome some of the many challenges and pitfalls that have become evident over recent years. Part of the initial intention, with the first event centred upon the Mayoral election, was to then present these findings to the Mayor of London so that they might contribute to discussion around key areas.

With the recent results of the referendum, perspectives and dialogue that can unify Londoners have become even more important. We are therefore presenting some of the material from these events, along with a survey conducted over the first few weeks of May 2016. We recognise the need to widen the scope of conversations beyond London's own needs and role as a global city, with more discussion required on how the city relates to other areas around the country and the UK. The findings presented here are therefore a starting point from which further discussions can take place.

The series began with a public event, held in partnership with CoVi (Common Vision), where about 150 people ask rounds of questions to a diverse panel. Questions for this session were also crowdsourced, which helped form the categories covered during the evening, with further comments and questions taken from the audience throughout the evening. You can view a full video of this event on our website.

This opening event, and the themes that were received as part of its audience-focused approach then informed two focused discussions with business leaders and clergy respectively.

The first of these was a roundtable discussion held under the Chatham House Rule that explored the idea of the 'Liveability of London' - challenges, opportunities and shared goals - and saw a dozen business leaders, academics and non-profit campaigners discuss diverse areas from housing, to inequality, to employability and infrastructure. The discussion also briefly explored a number of practical ideas that could be taken further. A detailed summary of this roundtable can be downloaded here.

This was followed by a clergy learning day that looked how the Church can best respond to the diverse challenges of those in need and put clergy into contact with a number of initiatives and projects that attendees might be inspired by or collaborate with to help overcome some of the concerns in their local communities. This learning day was opened with a keynote talk from the Rt Revd Adrian Newman, Bishop of Stepney, about the role of the Church in London today; and also included a panel discussion that highlighted social and environmental justice initiatives being led by churches throughout the city.

Our survey was conducted using St Paul's Institute and CoVi's mailing lists, followers, and social media channels. 238 people responded to a series of questions about the pros and cons of London as a city and the issues that need to have the most attention paid to them. Some of the main results of this survey are presented below; we will be presenting further results in a more comprehensive report later this year.

When asked what the three key priorities should be for the new Mayor of London, respondents were clear in choosing Housing, Environment/Air Quality, and Wealth/Income Inequality from the list of options presented. Issues of Transportation and Community Cohesion weren't far behind, as indicated in the graph below, and the open Other category was mostly filled with mentions of education.

There were also indications of disaffection and mistrust of the political class strongly evident in the survey. When asked 'To what extent do you feel that your concerns are addressed by local/national elected politicians?' the responses sent a clear message. The average score (out of 10) for local politicians was 4.52 and for national politicians it was even lower at just 3.76 - highlighting a disconnect between politicians and their constituents which has played out on a much larger scale in recent days. In contrast, the bulk of people feel well connected to their local communities - with 61.35% of respondents falling within a score range of 6 to 8 out of 10 (average 6.4).

Most people also feel that London has gotten worse for young people, families and recent migrants over the last ten years; whilst improving for employers and entrepreneurs. The question 'Do you think that London has improved for the following groups in the last ten years?' saw 70.2% of respondents feel that things had become Worse or Much Worse for Young People (under 35); 63.8% felt the same way for families; and 53.8% for migrants who have recently moved to the UK. This contrasted with the view around the situation of business-related groups - where 35.3% felt that things had gotten Better or Much Better for Employers (51.7% felt they were About the Same); and 56.3% perceived things to be Better or Much Better for Entrepreneurs (31.9% on About the Same). The graph below shows the average scores for each group, indicating the perception of whether a group is worse off overall or have benefited from improved conditions.

We also asked a series of open-ended questions that explored what people liked most about London, what they would like to see changed, and what they think is most needed to bring everybody together. The responses to these questions, as can be seen from the word clouds below which rank words by size according to frequency, are not surprising but do bring a good sense of needed direction and identify areas to celebrate, and areas on which to work.

In the midst of an uncertain political and economic climate, it is clear that diversity, community and civic engagement have a key role to play in bringing Londoners together into a shared vision of what it means to create a healthy and flourishing society that looks after the wellbeing of all. We will be continuing this work with our next event on 13 September, more information on this will be coming out soon.

If you would like to receive updates about this event and our on-going work, please do sign up to our mailing list here.

About this author

St Paul's Institute seeks to foster an informed Christian response to the most urgent ethical and spiritual issues of our times: equality, stewardship, and the meaning of the common good.

keith - Posted: 30 Jun 2016

Thank you. A good clear summary.