By Greg Sproston, the Policy and Campaigns Manager for the Traveller Movement
The report consists of a peer-researched needs analysis to establish what is required to drive economic inclusion; as well as an expansive, but inexhaustive, mapping of youth service provision accessible to young GRT people.
The extent of economic exclusion and chronic underemployment within GRT communities is seen in ONS and Government data, and there is a robust evidential basis highlighting the factors driving this exclusion. Our research adds to this evidence base; revealing the profound, often life-long impact of discrimination, an inflexible education system which does not meet the needs of Gypsies, Roma and Travellers, and a lack of access to essential qualifications and skills development. Further, it revealed an inadequate youth work provision, often driven by unsustainable and patchwork funding models.
For the research process, TM recruited a team of 8 Romany Gypsy, Roma, and Irish Traveller peer-researchers who worked with our team to design and conduct interviews, analyse data, and contribute to the report’s writing. All peer researchers received training from our partnerships and research manager, who has previously taught qualitative research methods at university.
This co-production approach gave young members of GRT communities the opportunity to articulate – in their own terms – the barriers, the impact this has on their lives, and what needs to change. This is an important perspective, which has sometimes been overlooked in previous research. Our peer researchers remained active participants in the process following the conclusion of the research; with all recommendations developed jointly between TM and community members.
A separate survey was distributed to over 150 organisations working in or adjacent to the youth sector, in order to assess the width and depth of GRT youth engagement and level of provision. Analysis of these findings strongly supported the lived experience articulated by community members, and demonstrate for organisations to develop much more substantive mechanisms for engaging with GRT communities.
All young people are being failed by a Government without a strategic approach; with the effects most keenly felt by GRT and other minoritised communities. Promised progress on the GRT National Strategy remains unfulfilled after 3 years of waiting and the ‘National Youth Guarantee’ announced in February contains welcome pledges, without any concrete indication of how they will be achieved. Clear commitment and leadership from central Government is required in order for the youth sector to thrive.
As a result, many of our recommendations argue for serious policy reform at the national level. Nevertheless there’s lots in this report for charitable and voluntary organisations, and individual schools. Our research revealed pockets of good practice and examples of effective collaboration within youth sector organisations, as well as between the sector and public bodies. The good practice we uncovered finds its way into our recommendations, and we believe they are reasonable and achievable – setting out a roadmap for how smaller organisations can drive meaningful change even in the absence of political will at the national level.
The recommendations will significantly inform TM’s own approach to the youth sector in both our policy & campaigning, and in our partnerships work. Stay tuned to hear about our upcoming plans!