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#WheresOFCOM? Traveller group and campaigners demand action from Ofcom one year after “toxic” Channel 4 Dispatches first aired

Immediate release

Date: 16th of April

 

It’s one year since Channel 4 Dispatches’ “The Truth About Traveller Crime” programme first aired on 16th April 2020.

Today Traveller Movement and Stop Funding Hate are asking Where’s Ofcom and when will their decision be published.

The programme was widely condemned as racist and prompted hundreds of complaints to broadcasting regulator OFCOM. 

OFCOM opened an investigation on May 26th. Under the broadcasting regulator’s own guidelines, this should have been completed in 50 working days. Yet OFCOM has neither published its decision nor responded to requests for an explanation of the reason for the delay.  

The Traveller Movement and Stop Funding Hate today urge OFCOM to explain its inaction over the Channel 4 Dispatches programme

The programme was widely condemned for fuelling racism towards Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people and of promoting harmful stereotypes based on unsupported data. 

Traveller Movement, together with Stop Funding Hate are urging supporters to call out OFCOM over its inaction, using the #WheresOFCOM hashtag and #StopTravellerHate

 

CEO of the Traveller Movement Yvonne MacNamara said: “It is now one year since the racist show was aired and still no word from Ofcom. This programme led to a spike in online hate crimes against Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people and caused real distress and anxiety for young and old alike. People around the country reported losing business and being racially abused by neighbours after the programme aired. Online hate against Travellers skyrocketed.

We are asking OFCOM to deliver their decision and hope it will be in our favour. If Channel 4 Dispatches is not held responsible for their attack on these ethnic minorities, what kind of message does it send to the rest of the media and the wider society?” 

 

ENDs

 

Contacts

Patricia Stapleton

policymanager@travellermovement.org.uk

 

Richard Wilson

richard.wilson@stopfundinghate.info

 

 

Notes to Editor

 

* The Traveller Movement (TM) is a national community development policy and voice charity who campaign against discrimination, promote inclusion, participation and community engagement for the Irish Traveller and Gypsy communities in Britain. TM is proud to work in partnership with the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities together with service providers and policy makers across the UK to better promote social inclusion and community cohesion. https://travellermovement.org.uk/

 

*Stop Funding Hate is a community-driven human rights campaign working to challenge media hate by engaging with advertisers. We believe that the best way to tackle hate and discrimination is by working together to oppose all forms of it. Stop Funding Hate’s overall goal is make hate unprofitable by changing the media business model which currently incentivises and rewards hateful “clickbait”. https://stopfundinghate.info/

 

Read Traveller Movement's press release from April of 2020: https://travellermovement.org.uk/news-news/129-traveller-movement-s-response-to-channel-4-s-dispatches-the-truth-about-traveller-crime 

 

Traveller Movement shocked by report on Race and Ethnic Disparities

The Traveller Movement is shocked by the report from the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities and is in agreement with so many others that this report is a white wash.

The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities was established last year to investigate inequality in the UK. However, instead of recognising the corrosive impact institutional racism has on minority ethnic people, this report apportions blame, attributes poor outcomes on ‘culture’ and pits ethnic groups against each other. Effectively people are being weaponised in a hierarchy of oppression.

Quite frankly this is gas lighting, the like of which we’ve not experienced since the 1980’s.

This government is clearly in denial, or just simply deluded about systemic and institutional racism in this country, and denying the existence of racism IS racism. 

CEO of the Traveller Movement Yvonne MacNamara said: Last week we issued a statement about a text book case of institutional racism which even the Prime Minister said was 'completely unacceptable’. How then do we arrive at a situation a week later with the announcement that Britain is not racist, and "should be regarded as a model for other white-majority countries"?  To Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people we say, your lived experiences are real, they won’t be denied or belittled, and we will not be divided. 

 

ENDS

 

Contacts

Patricia Stapleton 

020 7607 2002

Policymanager@travellermovement.org.uk  

 

Notes to Editor

* The Traveller Movement (TM) is a national community development policy charity who campaign against discrimination, promote inclusion, participation and community engagement for the Irish Traveller and Gypsy communities in Britain. TM is proud to work in partnership with the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities together with service providers and policy makers across the UK to better promote social inclusion and community cohesion.

 

New research highlights the experiences of Gypsy, Roma and Irish Traveller women in prison.

On Wednesday (17 of March) leading national charity, the Traveller Movement published new insights into the experiences of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) women in prison.

To date, the experiences of GRT women have largely been overlooked and poorly understood by service providers and policy makers alike. This research brings together the existing literature and discusses how broader policy debates and discussions of wider reform can impact Gypsy, Roma and Traveller women.

The report highlights the different and diverse range of insights within the ‘GRT’ cohort, as well as the varied and distinct experiences of women who identify as Gypsy, Roma and Traveller inside the Criminal Justice System.

Read the report here: https://travellermovement.org.uk/phocadownload/TTM%20GRT%20Women%20in%20Prison%20Report_final.pdf

The report calls for policymakers to implement a series of recommendations, including:

  1. A call for increase in the use of Out Of Court Disposals (OOCDs) for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Women, and also for consistent ethnic monitoring to capture how these are implemented by the Police. 
  2. A call for more integrated sentencing plans to better support GRT women upon their release.
  3. Prisons need to become trauma-informed spaces to inform best practice, and providers with expertise in Domestic Abuse and Adverse Childhood Experiences, such as bullying and discrimination should be commissioned by HMPPS to develop a better understanding of the intersecting needs of GRT women.
  4. Roma ethnicity must be introduced into ethnic monitoring by Criminal Justice organisations to allow the experiences of Roma women to be better recorded and better included in calls for reform.

Commenting on the report, Sophie Wainwright from the Traveller Movement said: This timely report compiles the little information that is known about Gypsy, Roma Traveller women in prison, and provides some contextualisation with insights from frontline workers. We know from Ministry of Justice statistics that Gypsy, Roma and Traveller women are overrepresented in the Criminal Justice system, but we know very little about their experiences once "inside" the prison estate. This report shows they are more likely to be carers, to have children, and they experience the loss of family separation most profoundly. While this report is a welcome addition to knowledge, we urge HMPPS to adapt their services to meet the specific needs of GRT  and other vulnerable female offenders.

 

ENDS

 

Contacts

Sophie Wainwright

020 7607 2002

Email address: cjs@travellermovement.org.uk

 

Notes to Editor

* The Traveller Movement (TM) is a national community development policy charity who campaign against discrimination, promote inclusion, participation and community engagement for the Irish Traveller and Gypsy communities in Britain. TM is proud to work in partnership with the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities together with service providers and policy makers across the UK to better promote social inclusion and community cohesion.

 

https://travellermovement.org.uk/

 

 

New research shows cruel impact of Covid-19 on minority ethnic prisoners

Immediate release

Date: 01 April 2021

New research released today shows that Covid-19 has disproportionally impacted on minority ethnic prisoners.

Launched by the Zahid Mubarek Trust, Partners of Prisoners and Traveller Movement, A Record of Our Own investigates the impact Covid-19 on the lives of ethnic minority prisoners and their families. Research shows that people from these communities already suffer higher mortality rates from the coronavirus and make up more than a quarter of the prison population in England and Wales.

The report’s findings are based on an analysis of 87 questionnaires which were completed by prison leavers (62) or family members of prisoners (25) and which described conditions in 29 prisons between 23 March and 31 August 2020.

All 62 prison leavers said that spending 23 hours or more each day in their cells negatively affected their mental health.

... it puts so many bad thoughts into your head, sometimes you think oh my god, if I killed myself, I wouldn’t be in a position like this, you know. They just don’t realise the impact it has.” (A 35+ year-old female prison leaver) 

(55%) still reported having significant less contact with their loved ones during lockdown. This was also reported by family members

 “He calls only for a minute to say that he is still alive.” (A 35+ year-old female family member).

The lockdown restrictions both caused and exacerbated mental health issues, with more than half of prison leavers (34 respondents or 55%) reporting increased stress, anxiety or depression, two third of whom did not experience these feeling prior to the pandemic. Several participants said they considered suicide or self-harming or witnessed incidents in which others did so.

“If I had stayed there one extra week it would have been a body bag for me. Even like when you choke, it’s like you want to do something stupid for them to notice you.” (A 33-year-old male prison leaver).

Read the summary report here: https://travellermovement.org.uk/criminal-justice?download=264:april-2021-a-record-of-our-own-executive-summary

The reports recommends that all prisoners to be provided with longer and better quality time out of their cells every day; there should be more regular and meaningful engagement with individual prisoners to ensure their wellbeing; additional targeted support needs to be provided to groups of prisoners who are particularly affected by the lockdown provisions, especially young people, and preparation for release during lockdown restrictions should include assessments of accommodation and family and social support needs

Commenting on the report, CEO of the Traveller Movement Yvonne MacNamara said: the findings from this report are truly shocking. People from minoritised communities have been greatly impacted by Covid inside prison. This is a wakeup call for the prison service. They must put appropriate services in place, and ensure everyone in custody has time to exercise, time to learn, and time to reflect.

The report can be read in full here: https://travellermovement.org.uk/criminal-justice?download=265:april-2021-full-report-a-record-of-our-own

 

ENDS

Contacts

Patricia Stapleton

T: 020 7607 2002

E: policymanager@travellermovement.org.uk

 

Notes to Editor

* The Traveller Movement (TM) is a national community development policy and voice charity who campaign against discrimination, promote inclusion, participation and community engagement for the Irish Traveller and Gypsy communities in Britain. TM is proud to work in partnership with the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities together with service providers and policy makers across the UK to better promote social inclusion and community cohesion.

 

Education stakeholders write to Gavin Williamson MP over the widening attainment gap for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils

 Gypsy, Roma and Traveller stakeholders have written to the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson MP to raise their concerns regarding the widening attainment gap for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) pupils. The letter calls for immediate action to ensure that GRT children are supported at this critical time to progress in their education, and suggest a combination of approaches to make returning to school easier for children and their families. Read the letter below. 

 

10 March 2021

Dear Gavin Williamson,

As the leading national organisations representing Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) people in the UK, we urge you to ensure that GRT children are supported to return to school after a year’s disruption to their education due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While we welcome the announcement of additional funding for the catch-up programme and the prioritisation of support for disadvantaged pupils, we encourage you to take this opportunity to work with schools and parents on closing the pre-existing attainment gap for GRT children.

Children from these communities are already disadvantaged in their education; they have the highest rates of school exclusion of all minority ethnic groups, along with the lowest attainment rates and the poorest educational outcomes. Before the pandemic, an Education Policy Institute report found that Gypsy/Roma pupils were 34 months behind their peers at the end of secondary school[1].

In the past year, many GRT children will have fallen even further behind due to school closures, a rise in elective home education and a lack of educational support and resources. Although digital exclusion is common for GRT families, many children have not had access to the equipment they need or a quiet space to study in. Many GRT parents do not feel confident in their digital and literacy skills to support their children in home learning, and Roma parents face an additional language barrier.

We are also concerned that the rise in elective home education over this period will result in many children not returning to school. As you know, Ofsted is particularly concerned about children being removed from school rolls in circumstances where it is not in the interests of the child.

We are asking you as a matter of urgency to ensure that GRT children are supported at this critical time to progress in their education, and suggest a combination of approaches to make returning to school easier for children and their families:

  • Reach out to GRT parents to address concerns about the risk of virus transmission in a school setting and put plans in place for pupils to return.
  • Ensure access to the National Tutoring Programme for all GRT children who need support, and make targeted efforts to promote take-up of the programme in the GRT community.
  • Remove further barriers for disadvantaged and marginalised children by suspending attendance fines for the rest of this academic year, and confirming offers of school places made before the pandemic.
  • Mandate any schools which have GRT children who have been removed from the roll for any reason over the last year (other than phase transfer) to reach out to those families and invite the children back.
  • Ask local authorities to reach out to any year seven GRT children who were on the roll in year 6 but have not started at secondary school, with a view to helping them restart their education.
  • Make Government funding available for a designated worker in every local authority to ensure that children are not missing out on their access to education.

The return to classroom learning and the additional support provided for disadvantaged pupils presents an opportunity to focus on closing the attainment gap for GRT children. During the pandemic, Traveller Movement and Roma Support Group have supported children through small-scale tutoring projects such as the Tutors for GRT project and the RSG Aspiration programme, which show that specialised tutoring can make a significant difference. These initiatives alone will not close the attainment gap, but teachers and school leaders can certainly learn from their success. 

We also remind you of the obligations on the Department for Education under the public sector equality duty to promote the participation of those with protected characteristics (in this case GRT children) who are underrepresented in public life –  this is relevant to schools and also to the employment that can be accessed with a good education.

Beyond learning from individual projects and assessing gaps locally, a review is urgently needed of how to improve social inclusion and educational outcomes for children and young people. We urge the Department for Education to work with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to implement without delay a funded cross-government strategy to address the inequalities experienced by Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people. Retaining a specialist GRT liaison role for Ofsted should be part of reaffirming the Government’s commitment to progress in this area.

It is the responsibility of everyone in the education system to support Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children to return to school and ensure they do not face greater barriers to education than their classmates. We hope you will work with other Government departments and involve schools, parents, local authorities and community organisations to improve life chances for this group of children. We would be pleased to meet with you to discuss the issue further.

Co-signed by:

            Roma Support Group

            Friends, Families and Travellers

            Traveller Movement

            Luton Roma Trust

            Granby Toxteth Development Trust

 

cc:       Lord Greenhalgh, Minister for Communities, MHCLG

            Sir Kevan Collins, Education Recovery Commissioner, DfE

            Baroness Janet Whitaker and Martin Docherty-Hughes MP

                        (Co-chairs of the APPG for Gypsies, Travellers and Roma) 

            Kate Green MP, Shadow Education Secretary

            Wes Streeting MP, Shadow Minister for Schools

            Robert Halfon MP, Education Select Committee Chair

 

Contact:

Ilse Mogensen - Roma Support Group (ilse@romasupportgroup.org.uk)

Mihai Bica – Roma Support Group (mihai@romasupportgroup.org.uk)

Patricia Stapleton -Traveller Movement (policymanager@travellermovement.org.uk)

Emma Nuttall – Friends, Families and Travellers (Emma@gypsy-traveller.org)

 

[1]https://epi.org.uk/publications-and-research/education-in-england-annual-report-2020/

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The Traveller Movement is a national community charity promoting inclusion and community engagement with Gypsies, Roma and Travellers.

The Traveller Movement seeks to empower and support Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities to advocate for the full implementation of their human rights.

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