Paul on Newsnight!

Fri, 10 Jun 2011 13:31:00 BST

Doctor Paul Thomas Paul Thomas has certainly been airing his views across various media recently….

This month sees the ten year anniversary of the riots in Oldham. And as Paul’s research is about community cohesion and was based on work in Oldham, he has been in demand in the last couple of months.

His latest book, Youth, Multiculturalism and Community Cohesion, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) was officially launched at University Campus Oldham on 17 May 2011. As he says, ‘It was important that the book launch was in Oldham, as the book started with research there and was developed with youth workers in the area, many of whom came to the launch event. I wanted to say thank you.’ Many of the youth workers involved in Paul’s research are former students!

His second big event was to attend an event at the House of Commons on May 19. This is not his first appearance there, as he was called there to give evidence on Preventing Violent Extremism to the Select Committee Inquiry in December 2009. This time he was part of an event at Portcullis House, where he was asked to speak at the launch of a scheme, ‘UpRising’, led by the Young Foundation, to encourage young leaders to work to aid cohesion and integration across all communities. Each panel member was asked to speak to the invited audience for five minutes on the challenges of multiculturalism in Britain because it was the tenth anniversary of the riots. Members included Sadiq Khan, a member of the Labour shadow cabinet, Catrin Nye from Newsnight, Lord Ahmed from the House of Lords, Jeffrey Bailey from the Centre for Social Justice and Vikram Dodd, the Guardian crime correspondent.  Paul was asked because of his research and the recent book launch.

These two events then led to his being asked by  BBC 2 Newsnight  to take part in a live panel discussion on Thursday 26th May ,the anniversary of the Oldham riots about changes made since then and their effects on the town.  The Newsnight feature included a hard-hitting film by reporter Catrin Nye, of BBC Newsnight and Asian Network, who has made a series of films on progress towards cohesion and integration in Oldham over the past year. These have focussed in particular on the new high school, The Waterhead Academy, being created from two separate Oldham High Schools that currently have very little ethnic integration .With the studio discussion chaired by Kirsty Wark, Paul was able to talk about our campus at Oldham and to explain how it is building bridges between communities and about the research he has done on cohesion and young people. His research has shown that young people definitely want to mix and that entities such as University Campus Oldham do make a difference. As Paul says, ‘There are positive signs from my youth work-based research that people get on really well when they are able to come together in safe, planned youth activities. You can also see the positive effects of ethnic mixing amongst students at the University Campus Oldham, at Oldham College and at the Sixth Form College. However, continued progress on cohesion needs investment and trained educators to make these interactions work. What is worrying is that the current public spending cuts will damage and undermine the good youth activities that are making a positive difference.’

Stop press: Paul was also quoted in the Financial Times on Wednesday 8 June.

Link to the staff profile for Paul Thomas

Link to Paul’s research held in the repository at the University of Huddersfield

Reports by Catrin Nye from the BBC on the years since the riots in Oldham and attempts to bring about community cohesion:

BBC News – Oldham merges schools segregated by race

BBC News – Oldham schools attempt to bridge race divide

BBC News - Oldham riots: What has changed 10 years on?

BBC news - Oldham riots progress under threat from cuts

UpRising – the leadership programme launched in May 2011

Report of the event at Portcullis House on the UpRising website

The Young Foundation

Oldham Advertiser feature on the tenth anniversary

Oldham Chronicle news feature on the tenth anniversary

Waterhead Academy

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