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Keith Williamson [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The dynamics of diversity across Greater Manchester

Although the research identified these neighbourhoods have higher levels of deprivation, it is deprivation rather than diversity, that determines quality of life and is linked with poor physical health, low social cohesion and race discrimination.

Cheetham Hill Road was, according to the data from the Office for National Statistics following on from the Census, the most ethnically diverse place in Manchester, if not the UK.

Almost half of the population speak English as a first language. There are Polish shops, Arabic sweet shops, Jamaican hairdressers, Halal butchers, British high street names, banks and Asian clothes stores.

English, then Urdu, is the most common language spoken in this part of Manchester, followed by Arabic, Polish, Kurdish and Italian. So what do the residents there think of social cohesion?

Shamila Khalil, 26, said she likes the bustle of Cheetham Hill and she particularly likes the food stores.

In the vast green tiled Cathedral-like Manchester Superstore, Ali Abrar said he moved to Manchester from Bradford in 2010. Of Pakistan heritage, he's a father of three children who loves living in Cheetham Hill. "It is a mixed community," he told me. "And it has been since I moved here, it has a good community feel."

Care home assistant Jenny Day, 25, moved to Cheetham Hill from Fleetwood, Lancashire, at the start of this year. She said she initially thought the area to be "a bit rough," however she soon realised that the residents were very friendly, and there's a array of cheap furniture and mobile phone shops. "In the bank, you hear the staff speaking in one language and the customers speaking in another, which is a good thing," she said.

Historically, Cheetham Hill has been a draw for Jewish, Irish and Asian migrants, who were attracted by the cheap rents and tolerance of the community. Yaron Matras, a professor at Manchester University, said they had identified 153 languages spoken in Manchester, which made it one of the world's most diverse places.

"In the bank, you hear the staff speaking in one language and the customers speaking in another, which is a good thing."

Professor James Nazroo, director of the university's Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity said: "Our research is all about setting the record straight on those diverse neighbourhoods which are so widely stigmatised.

"So often we read in our newspapers and hear from our politicians that immigration and ethnic diversity adversely affect a neighbourhood, but careful research shows this to be wrong.

"In fact, the level of deprivation, not diversity, is the key factor that determines these quality of life factors for people in neighbourhoods.

"So our research demonstrates the disadvantages of living in deprived areas but the positives of living in ethnically diverse areas.

"It's deprivation which affects those Caribbean, Black African, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi people who are disproportionately represented in these neighbourhoods, as well as those white people who live alongside them."

The research found one in five (20%) people identified with an ethnic group other than White British in 2011 compared with 13% in 2001.

The ethnic minority populations of England and Wales lived in more mixed areas in 2011 and this mixing has accelerated over the past 10 years, says the study.

Traditional clusters of ethnic minority groups have grown but the rate of minority population growth is greatest outside these clusters with ethnic diversity spreading throughout the country.

Researchers found that the vast majority of ethnic minority people have a "strong sense of belonging to Britain, feel part of Britain and feel that Britishness is compatible with other cultural or religious identities."


Main image of Cheetham Hill by Keith Williamson [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons