Have your say in survey that explores the impact of hate crime on mental health

A  pioneering pilot research project into the psychological effects of hate crime on Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities is underway. 

Take part and have your say by completing this short survey here: https://bucks.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/a-pilot-research-project-into-the-psychological-effect-of-2

The project  aims to  establish an evidence base for the significant anecdotal evidence that highlights the ‘ripple effect’ of experiencing hate crime on mental health. In particular it has been suggested that repeated exposure to hate crime may be implicated in high incidences of suicide (or para-suicide) within Gypsy, Roma and Traveller  communities.

Buckinghamshire New University are undertaking this pilot research project for community led organisation GATEHerts. The project has been funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee (MCHLG). 

Happy New Year?

ACERT would like to wish our members, friends and supporters a peaceful and prosperous new year.

We’d like to …. but it’s not easy to feel optimistic.

The re-election of a Tory government, on a manifesto which ignores the thoughtful recommendations of the Women and Equalities Sub-Committee and instead promise new laws to make lives of families living on the roadside more difficult, gives us no encouragement.

Brexit with its undertones of nationalism and xenophobia threatens Roma migrants in the UK and also fuels racism And intolerance which can impact on all of us. Austerity may be coming to an end, but the increase in inequalities and child poverty it created are likely to linger on.

New dawn

Nevertheless, ACERT has plans for 2020 which we hope will make a difference. They centre around our networks conference to be held in Manchester in June.

We recognise that very few families and teachers of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children have anywhere to turn for advice and encouragement. Our aim is to build self-help networks for parents, teachers and students, with the conference being the opportunity to identify potential users, understand what are the challenges they face and to plan and design the networks with them.

We have applied for a small grant to enable us to part-fund the event and to pay for some initial development work. We are also writing an online parents guide (downloadable and printable, for those without online access) and we will continue to work with other organisations in any way we can to challenge discrimination and create opportunities for our young people.

Wishing you all the very best for the upcoming year. Together we can make a difference!

Powerful support for Monbiot’s criticism of police powers consultation

The Guardian publishes Lisa Smith’s letter supporting George Monbiot’s article condemning Priti Patel’s consultation on the extension of police powers against unauthorised camps.

Lisa wrote:

George Monbiot is correct to call out Priti Patel for playing the race card in the run-up to the election (Journal, 14 November). In April, the House of Commons women and equalities committee concluded its inquiry into the inequalities faced by Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. It concluded that “Leadership from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government … has been lacking” and called on the Cabinet Office “to create a specific work stream for eliminating Gypsy and Traveller inequalities”.

Unauthorised camping is a symptom of the lack of a coherent strategy across government, local and national. The Criminal Justice Act 1994 criminalised unauthorised camping and gave the police extensive powers. It didn’t solve the problem, and neither will the proposals in the consultation. In fact, in response to Dominic Raab’s consultation launched in 2018, around powers for dealing with unauthorised Gypsy and Traveller camps, the National Police Chiefs Council and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners rejected calls for a clampdown on unauthorised sites and said “criminalisation of Travellers was not the answer”. It instead called for a “significant increase” in the number of permanent and temporary sites across the country.

The women and equalities inquiry was a serious and thorough effort to improve the situation for the benefit of everyone. This consultation, with its online survey app format and leading questions, is just the opposite.

Lisa Smith Chair, The Advisory Council for the Education of Romany and other Travellers

This eminently sensible and reasonable approach stands in stark contrast to the Conservatives’ same old law and order response.

We will tackle unauthorised traveller camps. We will give the
police new powers to arrest and seize the property and vehicles of trespassers who set up unauthorised encampments, in order to protect our communities. We will make intentional trespass a criminal offence, and we will also give councils greater powers within the planning system.

Tory manifesto (p.19)

ACERT EC discussed a request from Adrian Jones – Policy Officer, National Federation of Gypsy Liaison Groups – to respond as individuals and as an organisation.

…. the more responses we can encourage the better. If the Government wants to play the numbers game let’s outnumber them.

Adrian Jones

EC members who had completed the questionnaire as individuals commented on its subjective nature and amateur format. They felt that ACERT shouldn’t complete the questionnaire because it would be “…tantamount to collaborating with the Nazis.” Instead we will draft a letter to the Home Secretary, along the lines of Lisa’s to the Guardian, and encourage other organisations to sign it.

Mental Health Questionnaire for Travellers

ACERT EC vice-chair, Tyler Hatwell, is a Fairground Traveller, founder of Traveller Pride and a trained psychotherapist. He’s trying to find out more about the experiences of mental stress and their efforts to find support.

He has compiled a survey and asks us to draw it to the attention of as many Gypsy, Roma and Traveller individuals and organisations as possible.
The survey is here. It is completely anonymous.

A still from one of the short “It’s Kushti to Rokker” film series
It’s Kushti to Rokker is an education and community filmmaking project by Rural Media. A group of young people have been working with writers and filmmakers to create a series of short films about health, wellbeing and diversity based on their real-life experiences to inspire and support other young people to seek help.

The workshop at the Traveller Movement conference addressing these issue was very well attended and suggests there is much to be done in this area.