A personal view by Gary Newby, News Editor at ITV News Central
Just over half of Leicester’s 329,000 population described themselves as white British, compared with 80 per cent nationally, according to the last Census in 2011
Leicester is tipped to be the first UK city with a minority white population – how quickly that will happen, we may discover in the next Census in two years’ time.
As one of the most diverse cities in the UK, Leicester stands as a model of modern multiculturalism, achieved through widely-held acceptance and inclusion.
Ethnic diversity is seen as a major strength – instrumental to a thriving Leicester economy and a vibrant cultural scene from which we all stand to benefit.
We have to accept, too, that there are naturally conflicts and challenges. As journalists, we have a duty to reflect these. It would be foolish to believe tensions would go away if were simply to ignore them
By the same token, we have a responsibility to recognise all that’s good about diversity. We champion diversity in all its aspects – not just ethnicity but religion, culture, gender, age, sexuality, disability and geographically too.
And it’s not just in our bulletins and programmes but in our workforce. In part we do it because it represents sound business sense in terms of telling great stories and expanding our viewership; but in the main we do it because it’s the right thing to do.
It’s why Leicester is an important city to us and as the largest, in population, in the East Midlands. We have Correspondents based at our Bureau in the city.
It’s also why we’ve chosen Leicester as a venue this year for a meeting of our Inclusion & Diversity Panel – an advisory group made up of representatives of various communities, faith and other interest organisations.
The panel members give their feedback to us on the content in our programmes and online platforms. They advise on story selection, potential case studies, and our use of language, and other issues of importance to them.
There is not always agreement amongst the panel members. But maybe that’s not the point – and that brings me back to Leicester and the Census.
Someone far cleverer than I, said ‘community’ doesn’t happen when you bring together a group of like-minded people who all share the same values.
It happens, they said, when you bring together people with different values and opinions but who understand each other through the process of living together.
Whatever the next Census figures tell us, I hope Leicester continues to be a place where what genuinely brings us closer together is not a desire to erase what makes us different but a willingness to understand – and to celebrate – *why* we’re different.