Its Gypsy, Roma & Traveller (GRT) History Month this June, almost a year and a half since GATE Herts published its “Hate as Regular as Rain” report. The report found that shockingly GRT communities were experiencing hate incidents on an almost daily basis, while mental health issues and suicide were leading to an “epidemic of needless deaths”. One of the report’s recommendations was to ensure that all schools are aware of and recognise GRT culture, through incorporation of GRT History Month within the school calendar.
Understanding GRT history not only gives GRT children pride in their heritage but also raises awareness amongst pupils and teachers that GRT communities are minority ethnic groups, protected by legislation and as such racism towards them is as unacceptable as towards other minority communities.
Hate crime & discrimination continue in Southwark
However, STAG’s recent survey (ending in March 2022) shows that Gypsies, Roma and Travellers connected to Southwark continue to experience regular instances of discrimination and hate crime. 61% of respondents said they had been a victim of discrimination and 55% a victim of hate crime because they were a Gypsy, Roma or Traveller.
“Experienced it [hate crime & discrimination] in primary [school], college, work. Day to day life. On social media etc”
“I was bullied at school for being an Irish Traveller I have been put out of shops and restaurants for the same reason I wasn’t included from some activities in school over my culture and what I believe in although I am 18 it still stuck with me and I came out of school for the same reason.”
Respondents to STAG 2021-22 survey
Eighty percent answering our survey said they would not, or didn’t know if they would, report to the police that they had been a victim of hate crime. Although a higher proportion would report being a victim of hate crime to a community organisation or charity, this was still less than half (42%).
The most common response when asked how reporting of hate crime could be improved amongst Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities was to have more education about hate crime and discrimination in schools and colleges (71%) – exactly what GRT history Month is there to support.
“Be nice to do it in more places [hold an Exhibition about GRT history] not just in Peckham so people know about our culture and that we’re not bad people the way people make us out to be. Good and bad in any community.”
“Learn people that Travellers have a life and that Travellers don’t discriminate people.”
“Encourage Travellers to not be ashamed of who we are, to be bold.”
Respondents to STAG 2021-22 survey
How celebrating Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month can help
This June is the first in a couple of years where we can come together in person to celebrate GRT History Month and there are a number of events you can get involved in:
London Gypsies & Travellers are holding an exhibition ‘Crossing Boundaries’ at theExchange Erith, The Old Library, Walnut Tree Road, Erith DA8 1RS from 8th – 11th June. The exhibition includes a showcase of their project ‘Mapping the Histories of London’s Travellers’, alongside work by Romany artist Daniel Turner, and an installation by Eva Lis. The Culture Day on Saturday 11th will include a range of family activities, a Romany language workshop, a screening of the film ‘The Deathless Woman’ and a panel discussion.
On Thursday, 16th June at 4:30pm, Friends, Families & Travellers will be hosting a webinar about the Gypsy, Roma, Traveller, Showmen and Boater (GRTSB) ‘Pledge’ for schools. You can find out more and register here.
On 23rd June 6-7pm, there will be a London-wide celebration of GRT History Month at the New City Hall, with music, stalls and more. Contact email@example.com, to find out more.
There are a number of GRT History Month resources for schools, colleges, councils and other organisations, some of which you can order, on the Friends, Families & Travellers website. They also have a page of resources to support teachers and educational organisations.
STAG will be arranging GRT history activities for our Youth Groups, posting regularly throughout the month on social media and supporting people to take part in the London-wide celebration on 23rd June. Why not get in touch, if you want more information, or to join in?
“[I want] To have school learn about GRT like Black History Month”
Respondent to STAG 2021-22 survey