By Charlie Doherty, Traveller Movement Intern
On Tuesday the 21st of March, I co-hosted the London Connected Communities Event for the Traveller Movement, in London City Hall, alongside my younger brother Jimmy and Mikey Lawrence. I was somewhat nervous beforehand, as is typically the case when an entire room of people stare at you and wait for you to speak. However, once I started, I began to feel more comfortable. Me and my brother then introduced the Deputy Mayor, who gave a quick speech to kickstart the day.
All sorts of people turned up to the event to either speak or listen, from government officials to community members, such as Jo Clement, the award-winning poet, and David Beaney, the Conservative Councilor from Kent. All the speakers that day did a great job of either explaining how their organizations were involved in supporting GRT communities or speaking from their own personal experience as community members. I then got to host a series of workshops, with the first describing the barriers to involvement, regarding educational and professional opportunities for members of GRT communities. The second workshop then brought different organizations together to make pledges on how they can help to alleviate or solve these issues.
After all talks and workshops had finished, the networking session began. I got to have a conversation with David Beaney, who told me all about his journey in becoming elected as a Councilor, as well as describing the barriers to success that he faced, both internal and external of the community. It was interesting to have met the Gypsies and Travellers who spoke at the event, as it’s not often that I come across others from my community who have pursued anything other than the “normal” professions, such as paving or roofing. These people are and will continue to be, a source of inspiration on my educational and professional journey in the years to come.
All in all, the day was a success, with everything going according to plan. I’m happy to have met so many like-minded Travellers and Gypsies who came to the event. I’m sure they would have found some inspiration in listening to those who spoke, as I have. I look forward to the next event and meeting more community members and organizations.