ACERT Education Network 28/2/24. 

Apologies: Sue Mutter

Attendance: Anne Walker, Jolene Chisholm, Sam Hoban, Heather Bottomley. Esther Stubbs, Gibson, Safeenah, Ian Lake, Ellen Tout, Selina, Narvenka, Joseph McCarron-Shipman (TTM), Jonathan Green, Ngee, TJ Whittaker, Jethro, Rose Wilson, John Wilson, Selina Costello, Dee Cooper.

Introducing the Pledge

Heather Bottomley is dislexia tutor at Leeds Beckett University. A senior member pf the Equality team of GRT heritage had been working to introduce the Pledge, but had left her post and subsequently no further work was done to implement it. Heather would like to revive it and is seeking advice and contacts from the Network. 

Esther Stubbs is at Anglia Ruskin Uni which has implemented the pledge (led by David Smith at ARU and Margaret Greenfields nationally. Selina recommended Wendy Price at Sunderland University. Jethro reported some resistance to the pledge from UAE. Jon Tan is a lecturer at Leeds Beckett.

New Community Development team 

Jolene Chisholm began work in Aug 2023. as a member of the 15 strong team. The County Council have – been doing for ages but not Cambridge City.

She began by emailing 60 professionals and received generally positive responses. Set about organising advice sessions on Education, Finance, NHS, Vaccinations and Drop in clinics without appointments. Screening clinics. Avoiding waiting times. Red Table Talks – raising issues for families in a way they can engage with.. Getting a couple of GPs and possibly making a podcast. Trrip to National Horse Racing museum in GRT History Month. Pediatric First Aid course with 30 participants 

Jolene finds services want to reach out and she acts as a mediator. Margaret explained that the Mayor of Greater Cambridge is a doctor who was very supportive in the past and Mairéad Healy who used to be with TTM is an elected Councillor on Cambridge City Council, where she serves as the Executive Member with responsibility for Health and Wellbeing, Anti-poverty and Equalities; she was one of those who lobbied for the creation of Jolene’s post.

Dee Cooper founder of the Surrey Traveller Womens’ Health Group which runs drop in centre. NHS have asked her make films. Nurses have cultural awareness training.

John Wilson

When John moved to Orpington he found 70% of pupils in the school his children enrolled in were of GRT heritage. The Trav. Ed. Service used school as a hub. John became chair of Governors and raised awareness among school staff and families.

When Bromley Community project folded, NOVAS a small housing association took over the management of two small sites. They developed work across country, including the north of Ireland, where they managed group housing schemes; integrated into other housing projects.

In the late 60s and 70s, the Greater London Council built 47,000 homes on reclaimed marsh land, previously occupied by Travellers. Peabody is coordinating the process of regeneration doubling the capacity by 2050, and improving the quality of exisiting buildings..

There are many settled GRT families in Thamesmead and some keep horses. 4,500 people work for Peabody but only one identifies as GRT, although John knows of 6 or 7. He produces a newsletter with Peabody and in schools. Elder GRTs proud of their role in building Thamesmead. “Memories of the marshes” by Betsy Cooper. Thomas Acton also published a book of photographs and the Gypsy Council was formed in the area. John uses this information to work in Primary Schools and is developing an oral history project.

Roma students co-create environment exhibition

Rosemarie Cisneros co-created an exhibition called IMPORT AND EXPORT with Roma young people in Sheffield.  There were secondary schools involved and is a great example of what is possible when schools support and create space for new ways of thinking about Roma pride and climate justice.

The exhibition was supported by the University of Sheffield’s Centre for Equity and Inclusion and the Romani Cultural & Arts Company as part of the GM6 Programme.

The exhibition includes a screendance work that is part of a trilogy linked to climate justice. The film is called OCEAN: Import & Export.

Rosa would be happy to speak with any schools or individuals to think about ways of reusing the work or expanding on the exhibition. 

Bringing heritage alive

Members of the Salford Irish Traveller community, Salford Children’s Services and Salford Community Leisure took part in a three year project to build a traditional Bill Wright-style Bow Top Gypsy wagon.

They worked with a local Irish Traveller master craftsman, learning traditional skills of wagon making which have been passed down over many decades. They also learnt about the lifestyle, culture and traditions of life and survival on the road.

This project enabled over 20 young Travellers and non-Travellers to work together and learn from each other, exploring a unique minority heritage which is often misunderstood and maligned.

The accompanying educational exhibition and activity programme explores themes such as traditions, culture, heritage and identity and why these things  are so important in all our lives.