The presence of people from different geographical areas and different national and ethnic backgrounds provides opportunities for social and cultural mixing. This can be quite shallow: different people may pass in the street or in the playground without actually getting to know each other. Sometimes the relationship may go deeper as people with different origins and experiences become work mates or close neighbours and learn more about each other.

Your sense of who you are can be shaped by how open you are to others.


Moving People Changing Places

Your family tree

If you construct a family tree for yourself and your ancestors it will not be long before you see that some of your close relatives came from somewhere else. They were migrants, perhaps moving from the countryside to the town, from Ireland to Britain, from Europe, Asia, Africa or the Caribbean to the UK, or from Scotland to North America or Australia. Some were displaced from their homes by famine or persecution. Others moved in search of work and a better life.  They retained a sense of who they were and where they had come from, but many also became citizens of a new country. Their children had roots in more than one place. They belonged to their country of birth, but were also inheritors of the home, place, traditions and culture of their parents.

© Katy Gardner and Kanwal Mand


Every person is an individual and a member of one or more groups. The question, “Who are you?” asks you to name yourself and to state your age, gender and sexuality, and perhaps your job, status or role. You might add your interests and beliefs, including your religion, ethnicity and political affiliation. These are all aspects of your personal identity. As members of families, of ethnic and religious groups, and even of clubs and other organisations, people also have several group identities.

mirrors and faces
© Aria Ahmed

All people are complex, with multiple, overlapping and intersecting identities. Some of these link you to others and give you a sense of belonging, whether to family, peers, or members of your ethnic or religious group or social class. Equally, they may set you apart from other people.  Being and feeling different can be a positive or negative experience depending on the situation and how you are treated by others. The communities you are a part of and the strong bonds that tie you to them can sometimes segregate you from others in unhelpful ways so that you might find it difficult to build relationships with people outside those communities.

Most people are proud of who they are and feel a strong bond with those of their own kind. But, at times, this can mark them out from others and lead to stereo-typing, racism or hatred. Some people live in one place for a long time and may even be a citizen of that country, but never feel accepted or at home. Other people are lucky enough to feel at ease in more than one place, with homes and families to be visited on different continents.