In the year 2009, it is very true to say that we live in a diverse, multicultural society. This means that people from different countries and backgrounds are living, working and socialising together within Britain and this has brought many advantages to our lives as a whole. Our current education system covers syllabuses within Religious Education, Languages and History which makes learning so much more interesting for pupils especially if their tutors are from diverse cultural backgrounds themselves - they can really bring the lesson alive which, in turn, keeps the pupils keen to listen and learn.

Religious Education has shown us that there are more options out there other than Christianity and we can make independent choices if we so wish. Celebrities such as Richard Gere and Orlando Bloom are now devout Buddhists and Cat Stevens converted to Islam in the height of his career. Their change in faith has had a huge impact on their lives. As each religion is dissected, we are made to understand various traditions and beliefs and see them in a different light. In doing so, we gain respect for peoples' faiths and values.

History has taught us the horrific, sheer struggle Africans went through to gain their right to freedom and we were taught how other civilizations used to live ie. the Aztecs and Incas. We learnt the broad spectrum on their differing ideas regarding homes, villages, communities, warfare etc. Learning other languages not only gives us more skills, but it can give us an incentive to travel, to work or live abroad or to even further our careers, for example, being a translator or interpretor.

With so many cookery programmes showing us how to prepare and cook many diverse foods globally, we will experiment, following recipes, using weird and wonderful ingredients and a number of exotic herbs and spices to produce mouth watering dishes for our families. Ready made and packaged food such as lasagne, moussaka, prawn curry, are all readily available and easily accessible at our local stores and supermarkets. Occasionally, as a treat, we may order a takeaway; pizza, doner kebab, chinese. But it is not just at home that we eat non-traditional British food.

When we go out socially or to mark a celebration, we will often opt for Thai or Indian cuisine. Pubs and bars display and promote an array of beers, lagers and spirits from worldwide destinations which customers delight in. We are a very fashion concious nation but it is not a huge surprise to discover that many designers are influenced and take their ideas from other countries and cultures as do furniture manufacturers, stylists and hairdressers. Theatres, shows, films and the media can give us a deeper perception of other cultures.

Museums frequently have exhibitions displaying artefacts giving us a first class insight into the history and beliefs of different societies and cultures and how they have evolved. Galleries exhibit art and pictures from around the world showing us how different cultures and societies perceive and portray art. Other benefits from diversity are the different types of complementary medicine that are now readily available and very much sought after. Examples of these are Reiki, acupuncure, massage, homeopathy and aromatherapy.

Throughout our lives and even on a day to day basis, we are being culturally enriched, sometimes when we choose to be but on other occasions, without even realising it. This can be very true of our social and leisure time. The following are a few such examples: Listening to our favourite radio station may have our feet tapping to a Soul or R & B track or we may like to burn a few pounds off salsa dancing. Many of us sport a tattoo or body piercing these days - something that was brought to this country but has cultivated and grown here.

Alot of people now participate in Chinese New Year and enthuse in calculating what animal year they were born in. We watch the fireworks light up the sky not only for this celebration but also Diwali and Eid. Notting Hill Carnival is a favourite Bank Holiday venue but it is not just Afro-Caribbeans that attend and enjoy the steel bands, the traditional, colourful costumes, with the sounds of Soca, Calypso and Reggae ringing out whilst enjoying jerk chicken and rice and peas!

Summer fetes and school fairs now see stalls with henna tattoing, ethnic jewellery, barbecued food alongside pakoras, samosas and onion bhajis. Such events bring a sense of real social cohesion, tolerance and community spirit - everyone feels as though they belong. Participation and understanding different cultures gives us knowledge, makes life so much more interesting and broadens our minds. Life would be extremely boring if we were all the same and kept to the same monotonous routine without allowing ourselves to explore diversity.

Some of the aspects mentioned above bring economic benefits to society as well such as clothes stores, food chains, the drinks industry, restaurants, the arts, festivals but others not mentioned are concerts, imports and exports. Also, there has been a gap in our healthcare sector due to insufficient qualified medical staff. We have had to turn to other countries to overcome this problem and trained foreigners have taken up positions bringing with them new skills and concepts.

Economic stimulation and growth is all beneficial to the country as a whole especially when we are in the midst of a recession. It is extremely important to remember that we all differ from one another whether it be through gender, religion, race, disability, values, beliefs, age, cognitive ability , family status or sexual orientation. We are all unique individuals and as such, we are all entitled to the same standard of care and treatment in health and social care settings. We should therefore be treated as equals throughout the system.

This statement applies to service providers as well as service users. It is sheer ignorance, misunderstanding, misinterpretation and sometimes fear that brings about discrimination and this can only have negative effects on people requiring help, care and assistance, whether this be in a minor or major form. Unfortunately, the consequences of being made to feel awkward, outcast, embarrassed, belittled and bullied can have disastrous consequences as has been highlighted tragically in the news this week with a mother taking her own life and that of her diabled child.

People have to be protected to make sure that they are not intimidated or ignored, to ensure their voice is heard, their needs are met and to be empowered. It is therefore imperative to take preventative measures and to promote equality, diversity and rights in this sector via policies, staff training, leaflets and interaction to maintain standards, to make certain rights and confidentiality are upheld and to ensure that people are treated fairly and with the utmost respect from whatever walk of life they may be from.