I attended a citizenship ceremony for the first time this morning just to see what it was like. The ceremony took place in the Pankhurst Room in the City Council's Registry Office ( Emmeline Pankhurst was a Registrar apparently ) across the road from the Town Hall. The Council conducts around two ceremonies a week and applicants cannot become a British Citizen until they have been through one.
This morning there were eighteen people becoming citizens from twelve different countries of origin from four different continents, with an audience of friends and relatives including one particularly noisy child, not that anyone was going to let that spoil the party.
The underlying theme was about citizenship and belonging, and in particular about belonging to the community of communities that is Manchester. Manchester as a city has thrived on diversity. I'm told that according to the 2011 census, that along with London, we were on of only two cities where every ethnic group described on the census form is represented. Diverse cities are far more likely to be successful cities and better places to live, and diversity, difference doesn't imply separation. The city itself can draw people together with different ethnicities and different beliefs in the common endeavour of making Manchester a better place for themselves and their families. Both diversity and commonality should be celebrated and this morning's ceremony did that as it welcomed our newest citizens into full membership of the life of our city.