An insight into Gypsy, Roma, Traveller communities in your area.
The Romani Cultural Arts Co. is the leading Romani and Traveller community-based organisation in Wales, traditionally using the arts and culture as a vehicle for advocacy and empowerment, amongst the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) communities. RCAC is also supporting individuals to become “Community Champions”, as actors and agents of change in their own communities, making a difference for themselves and the wider society. RCAC is managed by a Board (voluntary management committee) made up of representatives from the GRT communities, meaning that community members have a role as decision-makers and are part of the process of shaping the advocacy and rights agenda that RCAC promotes. The Company believes it is essential that the GRT communities be at the forefront of social progress and positive developments in social inclusion, in the struggle or the recognition of GRT rights and promoting inter-cultural understanding. Within Wales and increasingly across the UK, our advice and expertise is sought by local governments, policy-makers, decision-takers and local or national institutions. We are asked to evaluate the effectiveness of their policies and strategies or to support them in consultation to ensure the voice of the GRT communities they serve, is heard. We lead on advocacy for these vulnerable communities, influencing the policy and strategy agendas in the context of a devolved Welsh Government and increasingly internationally across the UK and we deliver quality training for those who work with Gypsy, Roma, Traveller communities and who wish to improve their reach and their impact. Recently we have been able to:
- Influence the Welsh Government through a robust consultation process in relation to the drafting and implementation of a new Scrap Metal Act (UK) and Horses Act (Wales) that is likely to have a profound effect upon the GRT community;
- Support an EU project, led by Dr Andrew Ryder (Corvinus University, Budapest), to survey Welsh Gypsy, Roma and Traveller views on the current Welsh National Roma Integration Strategy, 2014-2020, for the EU;
- We have used funding to train individual GRT community members as key advocates who can influence developments affecting GRT communities in Wales – our “Community Champions” programme. These people have taken the lead in a variety of initiatives and advocacy activities at local and national levels;
- RCAC has managed funds from a local donor to research the NEETS (Not In Education, Employment or Training) phenomenon in relation to the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities in Wales. We have commissioned a trained researcher to work alongside our Community Champions to examine the questions of early leaving (‘drop out’) from school and the significant differences in educational attainment, between the majority community and Gypsy, Roma, Traveller children and young adults.
Our organisation was founded in September 2009, initially using small grants to develop work with GRT children aged 3-16, in the area of South East Wales, where we began working on Gypsy and Traveller caravan sites and with housed Roma families. We have gradually built up our position as a leader in “best practise” with our community-centred approach to arts and advocacy workshops for GRT children and young people.
Why is the work of the Romani Cultural and Arts Company needed?
The work of the Romani Cultural and Arts Company is intended to challenge the prevailing, negative stereotypes and myths relating to Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people living in Wales and to promote knowledge and reliable data about GRT communities in wider society, as part of developing evidence-based practice and inclusive services and provision that meets the needs of the GRT communities and recognises the contributions and positive benefits brought by Romani and Traveller people to Welsh society. Challenging racism and discrimination in order to build a better, more diverse and representative society based on social justice, equity and inclusion will bring improvements for all, as more egalitarian societies that demonstrate tolerance and appreciate diversity have shown (see Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson, The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better, 2009). The RCAC also works to achieve a greater sense of self-worth among members of communities, who have largely internalised the racism and discrimination that they experience on a daily basis.
Racism is widely recognised as anti-social, at least in most cases. However, there is plenty of evidence, in the everyday lives of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people and in academic text, that racism against these people is still perceived as socially acceptable. The following quotes explain why and what affect this has:
- Nearly 9 out of every 10 children and young people from a Gypsy background have suffered racial abuse and nearly two thirds have also been bullied or physically attacked…
This is who we are, – Children’s Society, 2007
- Go to most museums, libraries and schools and nothing about their history and culture is kept or taught. The result is a widespread ignorance about who they are, which sometimes turns to hatred, fear and misunderstanding. In schools, children learn more about the Romans, Vikings or even fairies than they do about Gypsy, Roma and Traveller cultures and what they have contributed to this world. As a result they are misunderstood, feared and loathed…
GRTHM – www.grthm.co.uk
- The two groups identified as the most threatening – asylum seekers and Travellers – were the only groups with whom most interviewees had had no contact…
Understanding Prejudice, Stonewall, 2004
The Welsh Assembly Government’s own report on the accommodation needs of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people (Niner, 2006) spoke of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people having ‘distinct demographic and economic characteristics’ and being one of the most socially excluded groups in Britain. It also spoke of the extent to which that social exclusion was reinforced by their experiences of discrimination.
- They noted the tendency of the settled community to stereotype and lump all Gypsy-Travellers together, and felt that Gypsy-Travellers are the population group against whom it is still ‘acceptable’ to make racist remarks…
Accommodation Needs of Gypsy-Travellers in Wales, Niner, 2006
The Romani Cultural and Arts Company is a response to these experiences of racism.
Who should attend this training?
This course is suitable for anyone interested in ensuring that their services are inclusive and accessible for the Gypsy,Roma and Traveller communities. It would be particularly useful for those who work in Planning, Housing and Accommodation, Equality, Health, Education, Social Services and the Early Years.
Why should you attend this training?
It will assist you to:
- Ensure effective engagement with the Gypsy, Roma, Traveller communities in your particular area
- Be understanding and informed in your interactions with people from the Gypsy, Roma, Traveller communities
- Be better able to assess the service needs that address the Gypsy, Roma, Traveller communities in Wales
To increase awareness about the cultural diversity in Wales, to address issues and needs of Gypsy, Roma, Travellers in Wales, to inspire and improve the services and provision delivered to GRT communities and to generate trust and understanding between GRT communities and local authority service providers.
- To achieve a broader and more comprehensive understanding of the needs of GRT communities, from a local authority perspective;
- To develop a level of knowledge that will enhance and inform local authority officers’ interactions with individuals and groups from the GRT communities in their areas and localities;
- To introduce knowledge regarding the important differences between Gypsy, Roma, Traveller communities and their cultures, languages and origins, insofar as is useful to participants in the training, with the aim of inspiring best practice and improving service delivery;
- To introduce to participants examples of community members who are role models and who can challenge the prevailing stereotypes of Gypsies and Travellers or the negative images of Roma, present in media and popular press;
By the end the session participants will have:
- Increased their knowledge of the culture, traditions and history of the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities (this includes a timeline of key historical events and legislation);
- Developed an understanding of diversity within the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities (that is, who are Gypsies, Roma and Travellers?);
- Increased their awareness regarding the prejudice and discrimination faced by Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities in Wales and more widely across the UK;
- Identified obstacles to access and attitudinal issues or barriers in education, health, employment, accommodation, safeguarding and other public services, that inhibit the delivery of quality provision to GRT communities;
- Improved participants’ understandings of how to engage effectively with the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community and what they can do to address exclusion and ensure inclusion in the delivery of services;
- Developed an Action Plan that will put their learning into practice, in the workplace;
- Established a baseline of knowledge and support that can be accessed to assist officers.
Places are limited to 50 people, so please register your interest early to ensure that you will be able to attend. The venue will be determined according to need.
The day will start at 09:00 and finish at 17:00, with refreshments included for the workshop participants.
Isaac Blake, Director
The Romani Cultural and Arts Company
13a Cathedral Road
Tel: 02920 786 439
Visit our website at: www.romaniarts.co.uk
Throughout the day and during the individual sessions, there will be opportunities for open discussion and questions. The day is designed to be interactive and delegates are encouraged to participate in an open dialogue about the issues in question.
9:20 Welcome and introductions
- How do you know Gypsies, Roma, Travellers?
- Short film, “Gypsies, Roma, Travellers: An Animated History”
- History, identities and communities: who are Gypsies, Roma, Travellers?
- Cultural practices, traditions and religious beliefs
- Myths and realities: the truths behind the popular media stereotypes
There will be a brief break at 10:45 during this session.
11:00 Gypsy, Roma and Traveller families in modern Wales
- Policy and strategy
- How to build trust
- Accessing community
- Engage for Success
12:30 Lunch, including networking time and action planning following the morning sessions
13:30 Working with Gypsies and Travellers
- Child Protection
- Accommodation and housing
- Legal framework (rights, conventions, protections for minorities) and responsibilities
- Encampments, stopping places and community negotiation
There will be a brief break during this session at 15:15.
15.30 Best practice
17.00 Close (approximate time)
Dr Adrian Marsh – Researcher in Romani Studies & Romani Early Years
Dr Adrian Marsh – Researcher in Romani Studies & Romani Early Years, is of Romany-Traveller origins and has been working with Roma, Gypsy and Traveller communities in the UK, Sweden, Turkey, Egypt and central, eastern and south eastern Europe. Dr Marsh has taught Romani Studies at universities in London, Malmö, Stockholm, Cairo, Istanbul and Diyarbakir and has held an ERSC fellowship, as Researcher in Romani Studies at Greenwich University, London. He recently managed Early Childhood Development projects for Roma, Gypsies and Travellers for the Open Society Foundations, London. He is currently living and working in Istanbul, as a consultant expert fort OSF, the Council of Europe, Save the Children and ISSA’s Romani Early Years Network
Christine Lee – Community Champion
Christine Lee is of Welsh Romany Gypsy heritage and grew up in north Wales. She currently resides in Barry near Cardiff. Chris worked as a graphic designer in advertising, theatre, education and publishing for over 30 years. She also established and ran her own successful graphic design company – Chris Lee Design. Through contact with the Dollar Park Traveller Site in north Wales and other Romany Traveller families, Chris became aware of the serious issues, which many families face on a regular basis. She is keen to contribute to a greater understanding of these issues by the wider population, to bring about change and to make the non-Gypsy community more aware of the rich culture and traditions of Gypsies in Wales.
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