This morning I was interviewed by BBC Radio WM’s Phil Upton about the increasing diversity in Birmingham.

Focusing on this year’s Census, raised concerns about how Birmingham’s ‘white’ population would soon be a minority.

Here’s how the interview went:

Phil Upton: “The Census later this year is expected to show white pupils in Birmingham’s schools will be in a minority…we’ve all known for some time that Birmingham will become the first white minority city in the UK but we didn’t think it would be for a few years yet – is this change is happening faster than we expected?”

Chris Allen: “Well I’m not sure things are moving any quicker…when you look at BME communities in the city they have a much younger demographic profile than the white British population and so you’ll see more BME heritage kids in our schools because of this. If you look at older communities, you’ll see that they remain predominantly white.”

Upton: “How does Birmingham compare with elsewhere in the country, are we notably different?”

Allen: “We’re moving into a period of what we we might call ‘super-diversity’. This means that Britain is moving into a time where not only are we diverse in terms of our ethnicity, we’re also diverse in terms of our culture, religion, ethnicity, language and so on. When you look across Britain, there’s a number of cities that are beginning to look like this. London has always been much more diverse and so Birmingham’s better being compared to places like Leicester or Manchester. We’re moving in a different way to both of those in terms of what our diversity looks like but it is a general process that is moving across other areas of the country also.”

Upton: “There will be a social impact of this change and there will be concerns amongst the white population that is becoming a minority, they’ll feel threatened”

Allen: “We let’s remember that Birmingham has been a diverse city for over half a century now so this change is something that we are well aware of. Having said that, no-one likes change and in the past ten years, the diversity of the city has changed a little bit more rapidly than in preceding decades. What we all need to do is look at how all people can identify with a place. How we identify with Birmingham will help us to locate the positives rather than merely pondering on the potential problems…”

Extremely short and, I guess, sweet also. The joys of trying to be an ‘academic’ on breakfast radio…!!!


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