As the May 2nd 2024 London elections get closer, here at STAG we’ve been supporting people:

This work has been supported by the Greater London Authority grants programme but  our project is coming to an end. So we thought we’d spend some time answering the most common question we’ve been asked: “What’s the point of voting?”

It’s a good question. And very understandable for the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities we work for, when many face bullying at school, discrimination, prejudiced reporting in newspapers and on TV, and are impacted by laws that threaten their legal status and rights.

So here’s why we think Gypsies, Roma and Travellers should vote in elections:

Get your voice heard and the support you need

When we vote, we can help elect the people who know most about our lives and will help us with the things we need, like finding a place to live and getting good healthcare. Your local MP, London Assembly member and councillors can represent you and support you on a one-to-one basis to sort out problems. In Ireland, an Irish Traveller has been elected to their Parliament, giving the community a powerful voice.

Influence rules and laws

Every vote we cast helps decide what rules and laws are made. When we vote, we’re telling the people in charge what’s important to us, like making sure we’re treated fairly and given the same chances as everyone else. Even if the person you vote for isn’t elected, if enough people vote for them, it sends a message to those elected that they should take this into account if they want our vote next time.

Fight discrimination

The more Gypsies, Roma and Travellers who vote, the stronger the message that our communities refuse to be sidelined and demand fair treatment under the law. This makes it more likely that different parties will commit to our issues, such as fighting discrimination and promoting equality.

Strengthen democracy

High levels of voting strengthen the democratic process by making sure a larger number of  the capital’s different communities’ views are represented in election results. Gypsies, Roma and Travellers contribute to the richness of London’s culture and deserve to have their voices heard through the democratic process     .

Build community power

Voting is a powerful tool for bringing Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities together in numbers to campaign for common issues. This means their impact to change things that affect them, is greater. When we all vote, we show that we’re a strong community that cares about what happens to us.

Getting funding for the services our communities need

Elected officials are more likely to prioritise spending money on communities that actively participate in elections. If all Gypsies, Roma and Travellers voted there’d be a strong incentive for more funding for services that they need.

Gypsy, Roma & Traveller (GRT) issues for the London elections

The organisation, London Gypsies & Travellers  is campaigning for our communities’ issues to be heard in the London elections this May. They found that GRT priorities are:

  • More Gypsy & Traveller sites in London
  • Action to reduce discrimination and hate crime against Gypsies, Roma and Travellers
  • Better access to mental health services that meet Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities’ needs

They regularly hold London Assembly members to account by reporting what has been done for our communities. This means you can check if those elected have done what they said they would – and this might inform your vote next time.

So, will you vote?

We think the upcoming elections on May 2nd present a real opportunity for London’s Gypsies, Roma and Travellers to make their voices heard, shape policies, and demand the representation and resources they deserve. By voting you can play an active role in building a more equal London.

To get heard, the London election deadlines are

Remember, every vote counts, and every voice matters. Let’s make May 2nd, a day where London Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities come together to make a difference by voting. #NoVoteNoVoice.

Disclaimer: This blog aims to advocate for the importance of voting among Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities in London. The views expressed are solely for informational purposes and do not reflect any political endorsement.