Everywhere around us, there seems to be sour divides. Whether it's watching politicians debate on TV or reading the front pages, it's easy to see why people think the world is becoming increasingly divided. Pockets of tensions are on the rise, and hostile narratives are more commonplace. The impacts of economic insecurity, the refugee crisis, climate change and terrorism are on our screens every day, with blame often being attributed to those who are vulnerable or marginalised in society. It's been reported that hate crime across the UK has increased by over 60% since Brexit, and a recent report by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance called out a number of politicians and institutions for inciting the rising xenophobia witnessed in the UK.
But dig a little deeper and you'll also find the growth of a pretty sweet community movement. Increasing numbers of people concerned by this feeling of a growing prejudice in society have felt compelled to speak out in the name of unity, love and compassion. Hundreds of groups have chosen to tap into what communities have in common in order to bring people closer together. Whether it's joining small groups that bring people together through a love of food, like Peace of Cake in South East London, or organisations seeking to tackle hate speech directly, such as HOPE not hate, there is a movement towards unity taking place across the UK.
Right across the country, people are working tirelessly to promote better dialogue between communities and empower their collective voice to be heard. It's because of groups like these that we launched our One Sweet World campaign, to acknowledge that issues of social exclusion are real, and that as a company committed to social justice and equity, we want to add our voice to the growing movement across Europe that demands a society based on guiding principles of equality and fairness.
We've been working with the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations to better understand the hostile narratives we see in society, especially in terms of why the political and media narratives we hear, seem to conflict with the realities of people's lived experiences of migration and diversity. What is clear is that it's a complex situation and that the issue of migration in particular unlocks feelings and emotions that don't necessarily have anything to do with migration, but rather broader concerns and insecurities about society. But the research also uncovers some pretty clear statistics, showing an equal split between people who see migration as a threat and those who believe it brings economic, social and cultural benefits (roughly a quarter each), which leaves a big group (about 50%) in the middle who aren't quite sure. Yet, when we listen to politicians and read headlines, it's easy to think that the majority of people in the UK are opposed to migration. There seems a real divide between what we see and hear, and the reality of people's lived experiences.
Our future depends on how well we can come together and take a stance rooted in hope, love and understanding. The local movements across Europe can help to drive unity and togetherness, and build common ground for all, regardless of nationality, race, religion or wealth. As part of our One Sweet World campaign, we want to highlight that people all over the country are working to turn the tide on exclusion, such as the citizen-led grassroots movement #MoreInCommon, supported by HOPE not hate in the memory of Jo Cox MP, to highlight that "our communities have far more in common than that which divides us".
We've thrown a mini-festival with Lewisham's More in Common group to celebrate how sweet it is when communities come together. The event featured Mercury Prize Winner Speech Debelle, alongside leading local musicians and DJs, a selection of tastes and treats from Lewisham's vibrant street food scene, and of course free Fairtrade scoops!
Now more than ever, love and understanding need a megaphone. Find out more about what we plan to do with our campaign at www.benjerry.co.uk/onesweetsocial, or get in touch with us via twitter @BenandJerrysUK!