Howick feels safe and members of ethnic communities enjoy a sense of belonging, a community forum has told the local board.
“As a board we want to engage with our community in different ways, and these forums give us the opportunity to do that,” Howick chair Damian Light says.
“This was our second community forum of the term, with our first focused on those who support our communities in need.
“To enable us to hear from our diverse ethnic and cultural communities, we altered the format so we could have a different conversation with locals we don’t always hear from.”
Light and board deputy Bo Burns joined local panellists at the forum for an open discussion before a question-and-answer session.
Five questions were put to the panellists, centred around how they felt as residents, whether they witnessed attempts to celebrate diversity, social cohesion, what Howick might look like in future and whether residents participated in board matters?
Participants reported the community was very giving and supportive but suggested there was an opportunity to improve when engaging with ethnic communities.
“While there are challenges, there was a lot of positive feedback on the sense of belonging, which was fantastic to hear. It was clear from the conversations that there’s a lot more potential for genuine engagement and deeper relationships - one key message from the evening was not to over complicate it!”
Earlier this year the board confirmed a strong focus on the area’s diverse cultures through its Local Board Plan 2023.
Light says the board will use community feedback to help guide its decisions and develops its work programmes.
“This forum was just the beginning of a longer, deeper conversation about how we can better serve the needs of our diverse communities. As our population continues to grow and evolve, we need to adapt to their changing needs.
“In the meantime, locals want to be able to share their diverse cultures so we will continue to support that through our festivals, arts, culture, music and activities. Our signature Celebrating Cultures event in March is a great opportunity for that and we welcome as many locals, groups and organisations to join in.”
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