Page last updated at 02:40 GMT, Friday, 9 May 2008 03:40 UK

Ethnic groups 'get on together'

By Andrew Bomford
Social Affairs Correspondent, BBC News

Crowds in London
Younger people had more contact with those from other ethnic groups

Most people get along successfully with people from other ethnic backgrounds, research has suggested.

Just 2% of 18 to 54-year-olds in Birmingham said they did not have friends from other backgrounds, a study by the Barrow Cadbury Trust found.

More than half of the 1,000 people questioned claimed they socialised with each other on a daily basis.

But Commission for Racial Equality research suggests only 30% of such relationships lead to strong bonds.

The research, conducted by the polling organisation Populus for the social justice charity the Barrow Cadbury Trust, found on average 51% of people claimed they socialised with someone from a different ethnic background on a daily basis.

Our focus groups uncovered underlying concerns about access to public services and the failure of some people to mix
Sukhvinder Kaur-Stubbs
Barrow Cadbury Trust

For younger people the figures were even higher, with 78% of 18 to 24-year-olds saying they got together every day.

The vast majority of people said they had friends from different backgrounds, with only 2% of 18 to 24-year-olds saying they did not have any such friends.

Most people met each other at work, school or college.

Sukhvinder Kaur-Stubbs, Barrow Cadbury Trust's chief executive, said the findings showed most people living in Birmingham wanted "to make plural, cosmopolitan Birmingham work".

"This is not to say that people aren't also worried about the future. Our Birmingham focus groups uncovered underlying concerns about access to public services and the failure of some people to mix.

"Many felt there aren't enough opportunities to mix and get to know each other."

Generation gap

The study found a divide between the old and the young.

A quarter of over 65-year-olds said they did not have any friends from other backgrounds.

The young were also far more likely to have positive attitudes towards integration.

Three quarters of 18 to 24-year-olds described relations between different ethnic groups as good, as did 79% of 25 to 34-year-olds.

Older people were less positive. Half of 55 to 64-year-olds and 56% of over 65-year-olds thought relations were good.

The findings appeared to support government figures published late last year.

According to a Citizenship Survey for the Department of Communities and Local Government, 81% of people said they felt people of different backgrounds got on well together.

However, previous research published by the Commission for Racial Equality, found that while most people did mix socially with other ethnic groups, their relationships were fairly superficial.

Only 30% formed relationships which included regular socialising at each other's homes, its study suggested.

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