Sunday, 6 March 2011

St Piran's Day and the census

This weekend, I was one amongst thousands celebrating St Piran’s Day. A long-standing tradition, it is also an ever more popular way of celebrating all that is great about Cornwall – our history, culture, language, music, food and so much more.

I certainly find it heartening to see people’s growing confidence in their Cornish identity and also that more communities, groups, sports clubs and businesses organised events to mark our national saint’s day than ever before.

Later this month, we will have another wonderful opportunity to record our Cornishness through the 2011 Census which will take place on Sunday March 27th.

Question 15 will ask: “What is your national identity?” Tickboxes offered will include English, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish and British.

The Government has refused to allow Cornish people a tickbox to record their nationality but, for the second census in a row, the Office of National Statistics has allocated a census code to “Cornish” so we can record ourselves as Cornish through write-in options.

This means that if you wish to record your nationality as Cornish, you can tick the “Other” box and write in “Cornish’ in the space provided. In 2001, over 37,000 people did exactly that.

Question 16 will ask: “What is your ethnic group?” Five sections will describe a range of broad ethnic backgrounds. For example, under “White,” the options are a collective English/Welsh/Scottish/Northern Irish/British, Irish, Gypsy/Irish Traveller, and Other.

To record yourself as Cornish, you will need to pick the section which you think best represents your broad ethnic background, tick the “Other” box and write in “Cornish” in the space provided.

Question 9 will ask where individuals were born, while Question 18 will ask: “What is your main language?” In both these cases, you can also use “Other” boxes to record yourself as Cornish-born or as Cornish speakers, if that is appropriate.

It is my belief that this census represents a wonderful opportunity to ensure that our Cornishness is recorded. Please speak with your family, friends and neighbours to ensure that they take full advantage of the various write-in options.

It also needs to be stated that this census is an important survey, which will record information to be used by central and local government, health authorities and other agencies to plan and provide public services. The results will also be used by future governments when they decide how much money is allocated to the different parts of the United Kingdom – it is estimated that for every person that fails to complete the census, the Council, NHS and Police will together lose £330.

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