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Seizing the moment: Why events matter for social connection and shared identity

Seizing the moment: Why events matter for social connection and shared identity examines how major events – from the Commonwealth Games and women’s Euros to the Jubilee and Eurovision – can bridge divides and promote contact between people from different backgrounds.

Focaldata research for the report finds that 62% of people feel that Jubilee and major sporting tournaments bring people from different backgrounds together. And some 23 million people – 43% of UK adults – report attending a Jubilee event.

The report highlights five upcoming national events which, with consideration and planning, could make a significant contribution to social connection: next year’s jointly-hosted UK/Ukraine Eurovision Song Contest and the 75th anniversary of Windrush; Euro 2028, which may be jointly hosted by the UK and Ireland; the Second World War centenaries in 1939 and 1945; and the next coronation.

It proposes that next year’s Eurovision song contest, hosted in the UK, becomes a ‘Welcomers Eurovision’, with priority tickets allocated to Ukrainian refugees in the UK and their ‘Homes for Ukraine’ host families, to celebrate the warm welcome that people in Britain and other European nations have offered to those fleeing the conflict in Ukraine.

However not all events achieve their potential and, against a backdrop of current economic uncertainty and scepticism about value for money, event organisers are urged to make a greater effort in the strategic planning of events to maximise social impact, with five key recommendations to:

  • Make the most of opportunities presented by hosting events and major anniversaries – and plan long-term to maximise impact.
  • Make connections across events and apply bridging lessons to key opportunities.
  • Sustain the power of sport – linking national and local activity.
  • Integrate diversity, moving away from a segmented approach to ethnic minority ‘outreach and inclusion’.
  • Help major events contribute to ‘levelling up’ participation and pride in place.

It is the second of three reports commissioned by Spirit of 2012 for an independent inquiry into the power of events. The inquiry’s final report will be published in November.

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