Understanding complex communities

Creating a Fairer Future for all means properly understanding our residents, the challenges they experience and the strengths and talents they bring. There's no question that the council serves a complex community and consequently uses a range of different approaches to develop an in-depth understanding of future trends in service demand.

In 2011, the council commissioned a piece of social research to improve our understanding of five specific communities in Southwark. This built on previous research carried out in 2010 with the Latin American and Chinese communities in the borough.

ESRO, an independent research agency, was commissioned to carry out the research in order to understand more about their everyday lives and interaction with services. In 2012 the research was undertaken and following review of the initial findings the final report was completed in 2013. The study gained national recognition through the MRS Annual Award 2013: Winner Public Policy/Social Research.

The following five communities were covered by the research:

  • French speaking, sub-Saharan Africans
  • Bangladeshis
  • Arabic speakers (mostly identifying as Arab)
  • Nigerians
  • Sierra Leoneans 

The findings provide a rich understanding of some of the hardest to reach local communities, particularly those who are often not represented in any official data sets, including the 2011 Census. The information will enable the council to better understand issues faced by local populations, and manage shifting demands across Southwark's rapidly changing population.

Southwark has been approached by other local authorities and national policy makers to share the evidence and our approach further. We're happy to do so as we believe the tools and techniques developed for use here could help other local areas gain a better understanding of their communities. 

ESRO research downloads

Page last updated: 26 June 2017