Community cohesion

09 March 2018

Not only does community cohesion sit at the heart of what makes a vibrant, strong and safe community, it also plays a part in individual health and wellbeing.

There is a growing body of evidence that seeks to demonstrate the link between living in a highly cohesive community and individual mental health and wellbeing. Having the support of neighbours, and the opportunity to join locally-organised groups and associations, can support social engagement in communities and increase social connections, which are important to people’s sense of wellbeing and happiness.

Through its Active Communities programme, People’s Health Trust funds the ‘Welcome to all’ project, which is run by residents with the support of the North Wales Association of Multicultural Integration (NWAMI) and is based in Colwyn Bay. The organisation promotes community cohesion by inviting local residents to explore different aspects of culture including language, faith and arts. Their overall goal is to encourage harmonious living.

The project focuses on language to promote inclusivity, providing both English and Welsh language training to the people of Colwyn Bay and neighbouring areas. Everyone in the community is welcome to join, be they people who don’t feel confident speaking English but want to learn, Welsh natives who want to learn their national language, or individuals who are fluent in Welsh but rarely have the opportunity to speak it. 

Residents have become more confident as a result of being involved with the group, getting to know new people and learning new skills. One resident decided to start running Arabic lessons for the other language learners and they have been well-received.

A group of Muslim members held an Eid party, inviting everyone in the community to come along. Bringing people together to celebrate and learn about other traditions has helped to break down barriers between people of different nationalities, highlighting what they have in common and giving them the opportunity to meet new people. As one resident commented:

“Meeting new people that I would never meet, you find out that other people have the same ideas as I have but never really talk about them.”

The opportunity to come together regularly and socialise beyond language lessons has created a strong sense of community, with the potential for lasting friendships to form. As one participant put it:

“The clue to the success of the place is at the end of sessions…here, it ends and people hang around for 20 minutes for a coffee and I think that indicates…it’s not just about what’s going on, it’s about the community of people.”

The group have also recognised that there are members of the Colwyn Bay community who may feel isolated due to being native Welsh speakers, but having few people to converse with. They are planning to establish an informal weekly session where people can drop-in and speak to each other in Welsh. It is hoped that this will reach new people in the area and encourage them to create new few social connections.  

Through the project, they hope that the language skills being taught, the opportunities to learn about different cultures, and the chance to socialise with people of different religions or ethnicity, will have a lasting effect. Participants have become more confident as a result of the skills they are developing and the fact that they are making new friends.

People are starting to feel part of a strong community, based on their common interests and mutual respect for one another, and this is increasing levels of happiness and wellbeing overall. As one resident put it:

“It’s actually feeling that you are a real part of the community.”


To connect with the North Wales Association for Multicultural Integration on Facebook, click here.

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