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Friday, 19 December 2014

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Ethnic diversity grows

A fascinating snapshot of Cumbria as a place of increasing ethnic diversity has been revealed in statistics provided by the national Census.

Though the county still has the country’s highest proportion of white British people, the number of residents from ethnic minority groups has risen significantly.

Over the last decade, Cumbria has seen an influx of people from non-British cultures, rising from two per cent of the population in 2001 to 3.5 per cent last year.

The trend has been welcomed by health chiefs and equality campaigners.

Cumbria’s public health director, Professor John Ashton, said that the arrival of ethnic minority groups would help plug the jobs gap which will be created by falling birth rates and the increasingly elderly population.

He was referring to the Census data showing that Cumbria’s older population is increasing faster than the national average.

Dr Ashton said: “Our population is changing dramatically: the future in Cumbria is multi-cultural, multi-racial, and grey, so people will have to get used to it and we will have to plan for it. The influx of people from outside is good because the workers we’ll need in Cumbria have to come from somewhere.”

Aftab Khan, from Awaz Cumbria, which supports black and ethnic minority communities in the county, said: “Cumbria is benefiting hugely from the increased ethnic diversity.

“It clearly is now a diverse place, and while there is still some hate crime, on the whole it works well here.

“In terms of diversity, we are coming into line with other parts of the country.

“But we need to do more to promote understanding between cultures and to make services more accessible.”

Saj Ghafoor, who helps organise the city’s annual Culture Bazaar, said the Census confirmed the increasing diversity that is now visible in Cumbrian communities.

She said: “The majority of people in Cumbria are welcoming but perhaps the best way to encourage better understanding is to celebrate culture through things like music and dance.”

The Census data, collected in March last year, also reveals how:

There are 12,593 lone parent households;

54,495 people provide unpaid care, 7,265 of them for between 20 and 49 hours a week;

Nearly 51 per cent of adults are married;

And Cumbria has the highest proportion of Christians (71.9 per cent) of any county in England and Wales.

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