Baroness Janet Whitaker
Lisa obtained an MA in Inclusive Education in 2015 from the University of Worcester and is currently Youth Editor at Travellers’ Times a national magazine for and by Roma and Traveller communities. She is also a Global Leader for Young Children at the World Forum Foundation and a freelance education consultant for the Council of Europe as part of the INSCHOOL project on Roma Education.
Tyler is an Oxford-born Showman currently living in East London. His day job is as a Youth Outreach Worker for the charity London Gypsies & Travellers, he is also the Education Liaison Officer for the London & Home Counties Section of the Showmen’s Guild and recently founded the Traveller Pride movement which brought Travellers to Pride in London 2019, marking the first time LGBT Travellers had been officially recognised and celebrated in this country. When he isn’t doing this, he is a fully qualified and practicing Counsellor, an infrequently performing musician and if all else fails he still goes and builds up & pulls down the Waltzer now and then. But not when he can avoid it.
Valdemar is a renowned Roma linguist and poet who has lived in the UK since 1996. He has worked as a liaison officer with Camden and Hammersmith and Fulham LAs and has contributed to Holocaust memorial celebrations for several years. He is a committed Christian and has translated the New Testament into Romanes.
Chrissie grew up on sites around Colchester and Norfolk in the 90s. Now settled in London she is studying Nutrition and Dietetics at King’s College London, as a mature student, and hopes to work as a community dietitian. She is also the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller ambassador for King’s, with the aim that children from all of our communities not only have the same opportunities as everyone else but also don’t have to lose any of their culture or history if they want to pursue those opportunities.
Colin teaches applied social sciences at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) where he is currently Professor of Sociology and Social Policy. Colin’s PhD is from Edinburgh University (2001) and his research is mainly located within the connected fields of Romani Studies and ethnic and racial studies, with an interest in issues of identity, migration and citizenship. Colin has published widely in these areas as well as supervised and examined a large number of PhD students. Outside of UWS, Colin sits on the Board of Directors of the Glasgow anti-racist group Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights and is a Trustee of the Glasgow-based Roma Rights group Romano Lav (Roma Voice). He also is a member of the Research Advisory Group for the Scottish Human Rights Commission as well as the Traveller Movement. Colin is from a Scottish Traveller background, on his mother’s side, the extended Robertson family of Aberdeenshire. He tweets at: @profcolinclark and more information about his research work can be found here: https://research-portal.uws.ac.uk/en/persons/colin-clark
Chelsea is a Master’s in Education student at King’s College London and has a BA Physical and Sport Education from St Mary’s University Twickenham. She currently works within education and has an array of experience working with disengaged young people in alternative education settings. Chelsea is also currently working on the publication of research which explores the experiences of Gypsy and Traveller students in Higher Education.
Betty Blue Smith Packman-Billington
Betty Blue Smith Packman-Billington’s set up the Dorset County Council, Gypsy and Traveller Forum through DIACT, challenging negative media coverage of Travellers, and organises the annual Dorset Roma Holocaust Memorial Service, which is held in Kingston Maurward College. She chairs Kushti Bok an organisation that seeks to be a voice and promote the wellbeing of the Gypsy and Traveller community, Dorset Inter-Agency Concern for Travellers and Dorset County Council Gypsy and Traveller Forum, which seeks to give Travellers a voice in framing policy countywide.
Dr Siobhan Spencer MBE works in a national capacity for her community on Gypsy planning and health community issues). From 1987 to date she has worked in a volunteer capacity as coordinator for Derbyshire Gypsy Liaison Group. In 2005 she set up The National Federation of Gypsy Liaison Groups (NFGLG), which encourages and enables members of the Gypsy and Traveller community to participate more effectively with Government agencies. In 2009 she was awarded an MBE for community relations and in 2015 was appointed to Government Commission for the Holocaust Education Advisory Group Between 2007-2009 she represented Gypsy Communities on to the Government Task Group on Accommodation and Enforcement Issues. Siobhan is an advocate of lifelong learning she did not undertake any higher education A levels etc, until after being married at 17 and raising four children. She gained a Law Degree in 2012 from Derby University and PhD from Anglia Ruskin University in 2018.
Margaret Wood has been interested in Traveller education since volunteering at the Gypsy Summer School in Wisbech in the early ‘70s. She taught languages in comprehensive schools before joining Cambridgeshire and Peterborough’s newly established Traveller Education Service in 1988. Having spent 8 years as a teacher of Travellers, she worked as the team manager for a further 13 years. Following her retirement, she acted as a consultant to the DfE on Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Education. She has contributed a few articles and chapters on good practice to various books and journals. She has been an active member of ACERT since 1990.