By Laura Angela Collins, Traveller Movement Women’s Equality Intern
Hello, my name is Laura Angela Collins. I am an Irish Traveller woman from London and mother to three lovely children. On the 3rd of July I started as a Women’s Equality Intern at the Traveller Movement.
My independent activism work over the years for the Traveller community, women and survivors of institutional abuse had led me to collaborate with The Traveller Movement on campaigns like Stop Shaming and Stop Traveller Hate. I was later asked to attend as a speaker for a workshop called No Right Way to Be a Traveller for The Traveller Movements 2022 annual conference and then in March this year, I helped to launch The Traveller Movements Safe Space for Women’s Microsite in Parliament.
The background I personally was brought up within had instilled in me to not be so easily trusting of services. This fear had come from my mother, aunts and grandmother spending a lot of time in abusive institutions in Ireland such as the Magdalene laundries, industrial schools, mother and baby homes but over the time that I had independently worked beside The Traveller Movement I had gained a real insight into the work they was doing.
I have not only seen very passionate caring people working on behalf of our community but also Traveller women like Tina who provides domestic abuse training within The Traveller Movement. Tina unknowingly inspired me from just being present for many years I was advocating for services to be more diverse and inclusive from the very top down, but I hadn’t yet taken any real action to help towards making that happen. I started to reflect and knew if I wanted to actually see the changes I was advocating for, I had to be more present like Tina is and help be a part of inspiring young people and women like I have felt inspired by others along the way.
I had thankfully heard of the internship through Aoife who works with women in The Traveller Movement and with my change in mind-set, I had nervously attended the interview and was really pleased to get the opportunity to further learn about the charity’s work.
Upon starting the position I have felt really supported, I have Aoife and Sabrina to thank for that. I was lead through my induction by Sabrina and Aoife had prepared a work plan for me. They had both kindly reassured me that they are there in case I have any questions.
It’s been really lovely to learn more about other people who work for the service and it’s so inspiring to see young Irish Travellers like Charlie who was once an Intern and is now a Youth Engagement and development Officer confidently taking a lead on projects and hearing about all he has planned for his bright future ahead.
Those who personally know me know that seeing equality for all people is something I am very passionate about but having the opportunity to work within The Traveller Movement to support the further development of the Women’s Empowerment Network (WEN), campaigns against gender based Violence and working towards equality for Traveller women it’s something that runs a little deeper than passion. It stems from a place of generational trauma based on what happened to women like my mother, aunts and grandmother.
So I feel really honoured to be on this learning experience and I am really looking forward to continuing to advocate for the equality of GRT women and human rights that women and girls before me deserved but was sadly denied.