June is Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Month

    June is Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Month

     Since 2008, every June, people from across the UK have celebrated Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month (GRTHM). Through celebration, education and raising awareness, GRTHM helps to tackle prejudice, challenge myths and amplify the voices of Gypsies, Roma and Travellers in wider society.

    Travellers choose a life of freedom, it’s a very hard life but one which embraces the natural world each and every day. Being able to be out in the open, sleep in tents and cook over an open fire is a life which sounds as idyllic as it comes to many people; as does wandering into the hop fields to pick crops in the morning dew. But to live this life you need a strong family ethos and a finely tuned survival instinct. In the lead up to the First World War, the British army commandeered all the bay and black horses, and so Gypsies and Travellers bred the coloured horses so the army wouldn’t take them away.

    Discrimination against this sector of society has been around as long as Romani Travellers have existed. Some in the community have come to recognise Gypsy as a pejorative term as it became associated with irregularity and even illegality, as well as its historical use as a racial slur.

    And now, despite being classed as ethnic groups and protected by equality legislation, some in the UK feel they have to hide their ethnicity to avoid being locked out by society. Many have found that being open about their lifestyle and culture can hamper their prospects when applying for jobs, and they face multiple disadvantages in education, health and the justice system. Traveller children are more likely to be excluded from schools than their peers and far less likely to get the minimum expected number of GCSEs.

    Roma groups remain one of the most discriminated against and persecuted groups in the world, with a cruel animosity which spreads across geographical borders and territories.

    Friends, Families and Travellers is a not-for-profit support group which seeks to tackle and ultimately end racism and discrimination against Gypsies, Travellers and Roma and to protect their nomadic way of life. The organisation supports Traveller families with the issues that matter most to them, at the same time as working to transform systems and institutions to address the root cause of these inequalities.

    This year, the group’s theme for GRTHM is ‘Make Some Space’ and, for those wishing to participate, it has created a number of resources for us to use, including:

    • A GRTHM participation pack
    • A photocard you can make a selfie with and share using the hashtag #MakeSomeSpace
    • A poster timeline of the diverse international histories of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people
    • Language cards with key phrases in Irish Cant, Scottish Cant and in Romani dialect.

    Electronic and print versions are available.       
    Friends, Families and Travellers (gypsy-traveller.org)


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