Government scheme fails to close digital divide

The Children’s Commissioner has issued a damning indictment of the Government’s scheme to make laptops and 4G routers available to children unable to access on-line learning during the pandemic.

The £100 million package was to fund laptops and 4G wireless routers to be sent to vulnerable pupils with social workers, care leavers and disadvantaged Year 10 students. However there were just 200,000 devices and 50,000 routers up for grabs. This compares to the 540,000 children in groups currently eligible for the scheme, meaning that only 37% of these could be allocated a device. 

Furthermore, there are children which the scheme did not target whose needs has been overlooked. This includes disadvantaged children in every year group apart from year 10 – around 1.34 million children, on the basis of those eligible for free school meals. Ofcom estimate that between 1.14m and 1.78m children in total in the UK have no home access to a laptop, desktop or tablet, meaning that the scheme only targeted between roughly a third and a half of children who definitely needed one. The scheme provided laptops to 7 in 10 disadvantaged year 10s. For it to have provided laptops to 7 in 10 disadvantaged children in all other year groups, it would have needed an additional 940,000 laptops.

Children’s Commissioner’s report

ACERT believes that poorer Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils and those living in remote and excluded areas, will suffer disproportionately. Family size, parental educational disadvantage, insecure accommodation and prejudice can all contribute to difficulties in them receiving support.

It is a silver lining that during this time the education profession has accumulated a vast wealth of knowledge about how to make the best use of technology to support children to learn, both in and out of the classroom. Once the immediate crisis is over, these lessons should be captured and a strategy is put in place to invest in effective online infrastructures and high quality training for all children and staff.

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