Leeds is now a proud member of the Intercultural Cities Network (ICC), a Council of Europe initiative which allows exchanges of good practice between cities and stimulates policy innovation around the context of diversity. As a member of this network, Leeds will have the opportunity to further develop our highly effective infrastructure and join a platform to connect other intercultural cities into a network where initiatives and practice are shared, with exclusive access to expert support.
Using this network, we will be able to gain an in-depth understanding of our ongoing progress as an intercultural city on all aspects of the Best Council Plan, including education, population, neighbourhoods, population and equality. Being a member of the ICC network will also provide an improved understanding of our progress as a city which aims for inclusion and diversity, guidance in best practice, and offers engagement and educational opportunities alongside other cities with the same goal and experiences. Over 130 cities worldwide are members of the network, including cities in Spain, Ukraine and Mexico.
The ICC network is driven by the desire to see diversity as a positive asset to a city’s development, and some of their work includes creating a sense of pluralistic identity, empowering all members of the community, regardless of ethnicity or origin, and offering opportunities for interaction and further learning. By creating a better understanding of the diversity within our city, this will maximise our potential and ensure that we continue to create equal opportunities for all within our city.
As a member of the ICC network, Leeds has already demonstrated immense commitment to being a city of inclusion and diversity. Through our championing of a collaborative approach between the council and third sector organisations; Leeds has developed a successful strategy to support, promote and enhance equality of opportunity, celebrating diversity as an asset, with this platform allowing us to now go a step further.
As a proud ‘City of Sanctuary’, Leeds has commemorated events such as Refugee Week for over 20 years. Refugee Week is a nationwide cultural and education programme which celebrates the refugees’ contribution to the UK, creating a better understanding between communities whilst also recognising the contribution refugees have made to the UK.
The strategic, co-ordinated and inclusive approach to migration which sees diversity as a key to the continued development of the city has provided many opportunities to build upon and create effective partnerships. The opportunities that Leeds has as a member of the Intercultural Cities Network will bring value to the city’s existing tools and resources and will generate new efficient ones.
Councillor Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council said “Leeds is a city built upon diversity; outside of London, it is the most diverse city in the UK and home to over 170 different nationalities. As a City of Sanctuary with a strong compassionate vision, Leeds is delighted to take this opportunity to use the Intercultural Cities platform to strengthen our inclusive approach to migration. With a focus on strengthening communities through locality working and support of the Third Sector, we endeavour to give local communities the ability to take the lead and ensure we continue to integrate our services into diverse neighbourhoods across the city. By harnessing our existing partnerships locally, regionally and internationally this will enable us to assess and maximise our potential to benefit everyone in the city, as Leeds continues to be a champion of equal opportunity.”