LGBT Travellers Launch therapy service and Trans solidarity fund in response to COVID-19 Isolation

Press Release: 27/07/2020

On Monday 27th July, a Community-Led group for LGBT+ Travellers has launched a free therapy service and a trans solidarity fund to counteract the isolation and negative mental health that have been exacerbated by COVID-19 and the current discourse around Trans people coupled with the uncertainty caused by the Home Office’s renewed interest in criminalising Nomadism. 

“The situation for many of us is bleak right now. There’s a hostility in the air around our identities which is worsened by the isolation and fear due to COVID. Many of us have jobs which have been gutted by lockdown and so we’re pleased to be able to offer some tangible services to people in this moment.” Said Tyler Hatwell, the founder of Traveller Pride

 “People can self-refer for therapy by contacting us through the Traveller Pride website or through our social media channels. A lot of people may be reluctant to engage in therapy, worrying that they will be rejected due to their sexuality or because they’re a Traveller. We are first giving free training to any interested therapists to ensure we are getting people with a good level of cultural awareness.”

As well as the therapy, Trans Travellers will be able to contact Traveller Pride to get funding pots of up to £50 each to help go towards clothes, binders, cosmetics or anything to make transitioning accessible to trans or non-binary people from these communities. 

Tyler believes launching projects such as these is particularly important in light of Priti Patel’s renewed calls to criminalise trespass, something Traveller rights groups say will outlaw an ancient way of life. “Travellers are scared by the rhetoric coming from Priti Patel and the hate that it emboldens” he says “We are here to provide some relief, either a space where you can be heard or something material to help you feel more at ease as yourself which can be so vital at a time when we’re so often stripped of personhood in the popular imagination”. 

Applications for the solidarity fund or for spaces for funded, culturally appropriate therapy are open from 27th July on the Traveller Pride website and social media channels. 

In April the ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government admitted “Gypsies and Travellers are particularly vulnerable and have the potential to be disproportionally impacted by COVID-19” but left providing support up to local authorities.

Notes for Editor:

Traveller Pride was launched at Pride in London 2019 where they made history as the first GRT (Gypsy, Roma, Traveller) group to march in a UK pride parade. They are  the UK’s network for LGBT+ Gypsies & Travellers. 

We use “Traveller” to cover Romany Gypsies, Irish Travellers, Scottish Travellers, Roma, Showmen, Circus people, Boaters, Bargees, New Travellers, Welsh Kale.

Media Contact

Tyler Hatwell, Founder

Tel: 07582780039 Email: Travellerlgbtpride@gmail.com

Human Rights Website focuses on GRTs

EachOther brings together journalists, professional storytellers and creatives to increase public knowledge of and support for human rights.

We tell the human stories which powerfully illustrate why human rights are so important and how they relate to the lives of everybody. Sometimes these stories are those that aren’t covered in other media and, in telling them, we are amplifying the voices of individuals and organisations fighting to make a difference.

EachOther

Their 29th July Feature by Ella Braidwood It Wasn’t A Choice For Me’: The Gypsy, Roma And Traveller Campaigners Fighting Prejudice features ACERT chair and vice-chair, Lisa Smith and Tyler Hatwell, Josie O’Driscoll of GATE Herts and Mihai Bica of FFT.

Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month 2020

Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month may look different this year but it remains a celebration of the rich culture and heritage of Gypsy, Roma, Traveller, Showmen and Circus communities in London.

More than 60 people joined the event via Zoom hosted by ACERT Vice-chair (among many other roles) Tyler Hatwell. The event included a range of video clips, live contributions and awards for GRTHM competitions. A recording of the event is available on the GRTHM 2020 Facebook page.

There were individual live contributions from:
Debbie Weekes-Bernard Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement
Chelsea McDonagh The Traveller Movement and ACERT
Lois Brookes-Jones & Traveller Pride
Dr Dea Birkett
Oliver (RSG)

Video clips included:
GRTHM 2019 London Event
Ando Glaso
Circus Videos
NFCA/Fairground & Archive footage
Faith I Branko
Newham Bridging Sounds Orchestra
Roma Support Group
London Gypsies and Travellers
Newham Bridging Sounds Orchestra

50th Anniversary of the 1971 World Romani Congress

8th April 2021 will be the 50th Anniversary of the 1971 World Romani Congress, which led to the explosion of Roma, Gypsy and Traveller activism across the world.

An open-membership, non-political committee has been set up in London to liaise between people who want to organise events to mark this very special Roma National Day. 

Within the London Committee we are working towards two specific events so far:

1)     A large, interactive exhibition organised by the Galerie Kai Dikhas in Berlin to bring a selection of the best of modern Romani Gypsy and Traveller art to prestigious venues in London 

2)     A pilgrimage to Cannock House, in Chelsfield, site of the 1971 Congress, with a concert/performance event led by the Romani singer-songwriter, Pashey Smith, hopefully at the Bull Public House where the Gypsy Council was founded in 1966 (and its own 50th anniversary celebrated in 2016.)

Funding applications are pending. An academic seminar might be another possibility if one of the younger Roma, Gypsy or Traveller academics who still has a job steps up to organise it.

We would love to hear from anyone who would like to be involved in these events, or would like help with or publicity for stuff they are organising.

The chair of the committee is Virgil Bitu, the secretary is Thomas Acton, and Grattan Puxon, who founded the Gypsy Council and ran the first World Romani Congress is a prominent member.

Contact details

Virgil Bitu  

Thomas Acton 

Grattan Puxon

Contact Thomas Acton if you want minutes of the three meetings held so far or to go on the London Committee mailing list.