"It takes courage to change…" Social Cohesion in Dudley and Youtube

What does is take to build and nourish social cohesion? I’ve often thought the term itself has been twisted over the past year, from an expression of a neighbourhood at ease with itself to a poor short hand for tackling extremism, including home grown terror of a variety of political, religious and philosophical hues.

Tomorrow four Whitehall advisers will be in Dudley to get a better picture of how the community tackles extremism in the borough. One thing they will see is this short video we’ve produced to try and capture some of the essence of the Dudley approach.

This online version is a slight revision of the DVD version, with some copyright music and Channel 4 video stripped out. If you want to comment on it in Youtube please use his link. You can also make your own video and upload it as a reply to what you’ve seen. Some people have already picked up on the film. Thanks to Richard at the Quiet Watercourse blog and Miles – the London Region ICT Champion.

Working with Linden Walcott-Burton was a real delight. Any of you who watched Ballet Changed My Life will have seen Linden’s determination to excel. That’s something I also experienced, coupled with a sincere and intelligent interest in the people and the problem. The Ballet Hoo project was a potent partnership involving the councils in Wolverhampton, Sandwell, Dudley and Birmingham coupled with Birmingham Royal Ballet, Channel 4 and others.The programme (both the project and tv version) were widely admired in the mainstream media and argued over in the blogosphere (here, here, here)The whole excercise was a risk, which is why it was so rewarding for those who took part and those who watched). As Linden mentions in the film above, it takes courage to change yourself and the world around you.

The next stage is the development of a charitable trust called Leaps & Bounds (a very ‘flash’ website) to continue the principle of shifting young lives through the pursuit of artistic excellence and the support of adults.

Update: A quick thank you to the following for mentioning this film on their blogs: Front Porch; Catalyst Blog from the CRE; the always erudite Kevin Harris, plus thanks to pickled politicsmy inner adult and clarepolitics who say:

What’s happening – and working – in Dudley suggests a possible answer: if the money we agree we should devote to social goods is not being spent well by central government, perhaps we need to give it directly to the communities.


  1. Shakeel says:

    Found it very informative and interesting. It seems that communities often feel stifled by negative media portrayal, and just want to reach out at a grass roots level. Thanks for this!

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