Contributers ACERT Conference 2024
Sally Barter is a Romany Gypsy who grew up living a traditional lifestyle in West London. She has worked in Traveller education for almost 30 years and during that time she has represented Gypsies and Travellers on a wide range of educational, health and community cohesion platforms, ensuring they have a visible profile and an authentic voice.
Her various roles have included working as a parent support worker and a school governor and she was a board member of her local racial equality council.
She acted as a steering group member when a Childrens Centre was commissioned in her local community and she went on to be employed as the outreach worker.
Using her existing networks and community connections she set up a women’s Traveller group there and a family learning program where parents and children worked together within the school environment focussing on empowering parents, improving engagement and home/school relationships and overall educational outcomes as well as promoting pride and a sense of community. The group were NATT Traveller history month competition prize winners for consecutive years.
Sally is a committed advocate for better acknowledgment and understanding of the Gypsy Roma and Traveller communities and the issues faced by our children and families.
She is currently employed as a Gypsy, Roma Traveller School Liaison Officer.
She is also a trustee for Drive to Survive, she sits on the Traveller Times advisory board and is an independent educational adviser.
Dr Siobhan Spencer MBE works in a national capacity for her community on Gypsy planning , education and health issues. From 1987 to date she has worked in a volunteer capacity as CEO for Derbyshire Gypsy Liaison Group. In 2009 was awarded an MBE for community relations.
Married at 17 and after four children Siobhan gained a Law Degree in 2012 from Derby University and PhD from Anglia Ruskin University in 2018. One of the expert witnesses for the Government’s Women and Equalities Committee “Tackling inequalities faced by Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Communities.”(2019) she is an advocate for lifelong learning and trustee for ACERT.
Gemma Lees is a Romany Gypsy, disabled and neurodiverse fine artist, poet, actor, facilitator, journalist and theatre-maker from Bury, Lancashire.
In 2023 she’s worked with The Turnpike Gallery, Told By An Idiot, The Vegetarian Society magazine, Naked Productions, BEAM2023, Graeae Theatre Company, Haphazard Festival, BBC Radio Manchester, The Lowry Cultural Comedy Tours, Theatre Deli and CRIPtic.
She’s a core team member of Girl Gang Manchester and creator and facilitator of their monthly writer’s group, ‘Write Here, Right Now’, her poetry chapbook, ‘1000 Years’ will be published by Bent Key in February 2025, she’s in the DANC/ Triple C focus group for ‘People Who Experience Racism’ and she’s on both the Arts and Homelessness International Associate Leadership and Traveller’s Times TT Vision programmes.
Tim Parker is a Local Authority Planning Enforcement Officer, about to complete an MSc in Spatial Planning at Oxford Brookes. His studies have helped him to see how some injustice and inequality is enabled by the Planning System, which has resulted in him currently writing a dissertation exploring different forms of moveable housing and their interaction with planners and planning.
Richard O’Neill is an acclaimed and accomplished creative professional based in the North of England. He has achieved success as a storyteller, author, playwright, animation scriptwriter, and workshop leader. He conducts storytelling skills training sessions across Europe, engaging with various institutions such as schools, universities, leading museums, and cultural spaces.
Born into a traditional nomadic Romani family and brought up in various locations across the North deeply influences his work, inspiring him to leverage the power of storytelling in various formats to promote inclusion and acceptance.
Richard’s contributions to literacy and community development have earned him numerous accolades, including the prestigious ‘National Literacy Hero’ award, recognising his impact on promoting literacy, and the Beacon Leadership Award for community development and inclusion. His work has also been acknowledged with a Royal Literary Society Award.
He is published by Childsplay International, Pearson, Scholastic, Harper Collins, OUP and Bloomsbury. His books have garnered teacher awards in the UK and prestigious ‘Book-list’ awards in the USA, including an Aesop medal.
Richard is actively involved in promoting diversity in literature. He co-founded Diverse Book Week and TOTTT publishing, to champion inclusivity and amplify diverse voices. Currently, he is focused on his newest project, The Northern Storytelling Academy.
He is co-creator of the community publishing company Trails of Tales.
He’s currently the creative lead in residence at Seven Stories (the national centre for children’s books) in Newcastle upon Tyne.
And storytelling advisor to the Ready Generations intergenerational nursery.
Imogen Di Sapia
Imogen Bright Moon is a British Romani artist-craftwoman, working mainly in textiles material practices, including weaving and hand-spinning. Imogen is also a writer and researcher, and advocates for GRT & SB representation in Craft and heritage spaces, including national level EDI work on both the Equity Advisory Council at Crafts Council, and on the EDI Subcommittee at Heritage Crafts, where she has just been made a Trustee.
Imogen has contributed a museums case study to the recent Routledge publication “Practitioner Perspectives on Intangible Cultural Heritage” edited by Joanne Orr, and this publication has synchronised with the UK’s ratification of the UNESCO safeguarding convention on ICH, and there is a current government call for community-led consultation. Imogen will talk about ICH, what it means practically and ethically, and how Traveller communities can use this as a moment to safeguard our cultural heritage in our own way and in our own voice.
“Gypsy, Roma and Traveller history IS school history”
Helen Snelson is the leader of history secondary initial teacher education at the University of York. She is also the Chair of the Historical Association’s Secondary Teaching Committee and a EuroClio ambassador. Helen taught history to 11-18 year olds for 20 years. Now she works with historians, history teachers, other teacher educators, heritage and community groups to support history teachers’ knowledge of history and history teaching. Last year she led the writing team of a lower secondary school textbook that centres the stories of Gypsy and Traveller people in British social history of the 20th century.
I am Esther, born into a large Romany Gypsy family that worked and travelled in and around East Anglia. I have five children and am a registered social worker, which in part, I owe to my grown-up children who stepped in to help take care of their younger brothers and sisters whilst also working in the family engineering business. During my MA in social work I was surprised, and still am, at the lack of awareness and understanding for the differentiation between Gypsies, Roma and Travellers and our status as ethnic minorities and legally recognised as a race with protected status in accordance with the Equality Act 2010. On this basis, I now work as a research assistant on the GRTSB higher education pledge at ARU.