By Gypsies & Travellers, For Gypsies & Travellers

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National Lottery Grant supports Gypsy and Traveller women to engage with public services.

The Romani Cultural & Arts Company is pleased to announce that it has received a grant from The National Lottery Community Fund of £99,920 for a two-year project to support site-dwelling Gypsies and Travellers across South-East Wales.  

Isaac Blake; Director of The Romani Cultural & Arts Company explained how the project had come about and why the organisation was best placed to help:

 “As a Gypsy who has lived on local authority sites, I know that there is nothing available for the women, they can feel very isolated. This project will help deal with this and I am proud of it. All our funds are directed into projects that are led by the community of Gypsies & Travellers. This is an exciting project which will make a huge difference to the lives of many people, living on local authority sites.  

“100% of our staff and volunteers are Gypsy or Irish Traveller and 75% of our staff live on sites within the South East region.  The organisation is at the heart of the community – we understand and share the issues and concerns.  We have a strong understanding of the culture and traditions through being immersed in them from babyhood, rather than from theoretical learning. We are trusted by the community!”

The grant will support women at local Gypsy & Traveller sites using Community Champions. The Champions will organise regular social events and meetings for women from the Gypsy & Traveller community and improve community access.  This project is particularly needed at present due to the deeper sense of isolation and detachment that people are feeling because of lockdown.

This is a ground-breaking initiative that will enable women to stand up, be heard and to grow in confidence so that they can better engage with agencies and public services. 

Laurel Price, an elder site resident from Rover Way in Cardiff explained: 

‘Nothing happens on site. We are abandoned and I think it’s great to have someone looking out for us.’

The project’s Community Champion Co-ordinator, Jamie James added: 

“I am so proud to be working on this amazing project with my own community. It is going to have such an impact on people and improve their wellbeing and sense of connection with others.”

Dr. Ethel Brooks Chair of Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Rutgers University said:  

“As a Romani woman, I know how important it is for us to be recognized as producers of knowledge, as cultural agents and as central members of our community and of society at large. All too often, the deep knowledge and experiences of women from the GRT community are silenced. We understand that there is so much that we can teach to our younger generations and to everyone in society. It is only through programmes such as this and through support that foregrounds our work and our contributions, designed by us and for us, that we can continue to support ourselves and our families and to promote lasting, positive change for ourselves and those arounds us. Romani women are creative, we are brilliant, and we give of ourselves in myriad ways to make the world a better place. We are the key to true, lasting justice for everyone, in every place and in every arena!”

Jane Hutt, Deputy Minister and Chief Whip said: 

“I’m delighted that the National Lottery Community Fund has chosen to fund the “By Gypsies & Travellers, for Gypsies and Travellers” project. I welcome this initiative, which will strengthen and complement the passionate and committed workforce we have in Wales responding to Gypsies and Travellers on sites and in bricks and mortar.

The Welsh Government is determined to do all it can to tackle inequalities experienced by the Gypsy and Traveller communities, generating equality of opportunity and supporting them to more easily and readily access resources and mainstream services.”

John Rose, Director for The National Community Lottery Fund in Wales said:

“We are delighted to be able to support The Romani Cultural & Arts Company with money raised by National Lottery players, bringing some positive news during this challenging time. 

We believe the project will help support the Gypsy and Traveller community to have a stronger voice, feel less isolated and engage more effectively with public service providers”.