Inclusion is essential to communities and we must all work together to make equal and diverse spaces everywhere we go. That doesn’t mean you have to know it all, but understanding what inclusivity means is a good place to start.
The Cambridge Dictionary’s official definition for inclusion is: “The act of including someone or something as part of a group, list, etc., or a person or thing that is included.”
Inclusion within society is important for a person’s security and gives them (and you) an opportunity to lead a better and more fulfilled life and allows everyone better access to opportunities and life chances. It is essential to support people to feel better connected and valued in communities in order to achieve inclusion.
Did you know there are various ways to make your community more inclusive?
There are a variety of community groups who work to bring people together and help create inclusive environments.
Local councils ensure there are a variety of events that cater to different cultures such as St Patrick’s Day, Chinese New Year, Ramadan and Pride month, to name just a few.
Community groups offer support to victims of racism, stereotyping, sexism or prejudice. They often help the local media with community relations to increase awareness of issues.
Why not get in touch with your local council or community group this month and offer to volunteer or share any new ideas you may have to help make the community more inclusive?
How to be more inclusive
When you include people from different backgrounds in your community conversations you get to hear from a range of diverse voices and illuminate blind spots in your own beliefs and thought patterns.
1. Get to know your neighbours Talk to your neighbours and get to know them better, you never know what challenges theycould be facing or what potential barriers to inclusion there might be for them. These simpleactions can make a world of difference. Remember it takes people coming together to createa strong and inclusive community spirit.
2. Create accessible spaces The next time you’re in your local coffee shop or favourite restaurant, why not look around and see if you can notice any potential barriers to inclusion. Are there accessibility issues for people in wheelchairs for example? Or perhaps the music is quite loud which someone living with autism could be sensitive to. If there’s anything you notice, you might speak to a member of staff to see how they could make the venue a more inclusive space. Remember not all disabilities are visible – some can be hidden.
3. Provide an environment where positive relationships can grow Create a sense of belonging by welcoming new people into your community. This can goa long way towards helping someone feel included. Making a point of engaging with your neighbours, co-workers or peers enables you to stay connected with the people around you–and contributes to a world that values kindness, understanding and celebrating diversity and difference.
4. Take some time to volunteer Volunteerism, by its very nature, is a powerful way to build bridges between people and can be a tool that can help to bring equality and justice to all. Removing barriers for potential volunteers provides increased participation and confidence, as well as a sense of purpose and a connection to the community. Why not add consider volunteering for a cause you don’t know as much about. Working in collaboration with these groups can help us all to learn and grow
5. Start the conversation There are 14 million people with disabilities in the UK and these can take many different forms, both visible and non-visible. A disability is any condition of the body or mind(impairment) that makes it more difficult for the person with the condition to do certain activities (activity limitation) and interact with the world around them (participation restrictions).
Unfortunately, there are still some big misconceptions around disability. Mindsets like this can cause loneliness, but by taking small actions you can help. Have a conversation with your friends and family, ask about their preconceptions and see what barriers might be in place to help raise awareness about inclusion in your community.
Whilst it is, of course, beneficial to engage with your community and get to know others around you, it is also essential to put in place safe boundaries. Never do anything you feel uncomfortable doing