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July 2014

Report by Professor Bronwen Walter, Emeritus Professor of Irish Diaspora Studies, at Anglia Ruskin University, on the PAG in July 2014‘The Use of Census Data to promote local community needs’

‘The Use of Census Data to promote local community needs’

This event, organised by the Irish in Britain Policy Advisory Group, took place on 23 July 2014 at The Resource Centre, 356 Holloway Road, London N7 6PA.

There were two main presentations.

The team from the Social Policy Research Centre at Middlesex University, led by Professor Louise Ryan, who produced our new suite of reports on Census 2011 data, made a presentation on the main aspects of these data which can be accessed here.

Dr Omar Khan, Director of the Runnymede Trust, drawing on the experience and representational work of the Trust, spoke on their use of data, including ethnic data, for advocacy purposes, and made some remarks on the Irish data, the changing composition of ethnic minority population of Britain, and co–operation between minority ethnic groups.

Professor Bronwen Walter, Emeritus Professor of Irish Diaspora Studies, at Anglia Ruskin University, chaired the event. Below are her closing remarks, giving her summation of the event:

This has been a very valuable meeting with detailed and thoughtful presentations both on the census tabulations from the Middlesex University team led by Louise Ryan and wider issues about the place of the Irish community in Britain from Omar Khan from the Runnymede Trust. I think what has come out clearly is the changing but ongoing needs of the Irish community in Britain. The most striking of these is the growing number and proportion of older people in the Irish population, with concomitant serious health and caring needs. This population experiences not only poor physical health, but also mental health difficulties which may not have been captured in the statistics. There are also cultural needs in caring provision which often gets overlooked as the Irish are simply seen as ‘White’ and may constitute a small minority in a care home, for example. 

Another key finding available for the first time in the 2011 Census because of changes in the choice of ethnic categories is significant disadvantages experienced by the Gypsies/Irish Traveller population. This is particularly apparent in the proportions of single parent households, and high relative numbers in prison populations. Although precise numbers can perhaps never be known for this population, nevertheless its particular needs can now be highlighted.

What was brought out by Omar Khan’s presentation was the changing composition of the minority ethnic population of Britain, with the Irish forming a relatively smaller proportion of the whole. This reinforces the need for minority ethnic groups to work together and identify commonalities in order to make their voices heard. This is complicated by the increasing heterogeneity of population because of mixed parentage which remains an important issue to be addressed.