By Joseph McCarron-Shipman, Policy Manager
The Traveller Movement attended both the Labour Party and the Green Party conferences. Both were a great success for The Traveller Movement, not only in access to major politicians but in raising awareness of the issues facing Romani (Gypsy), Roma and Irish Traveller communities in the UK.
The Green Party conference
Our colleagues were at Green party promoting our Criminal Justice work (funded by Lloyds Bank Foundation) and our Youth Manifesto (funded by Youth Futures Foundation) as well as supporting pro Romani (Gypsy), Roma and Irish Traveller motions that were being brought forward at conference.
Our team managed to have conversations with Green councillors, policy officers and members. We were pleased to speak with Carla Denyer, co-leader of the Green Party of England and Wales about severe data gaps across all institutions in the UK, discrimination faced by the communities as well as our upcoming pre-sentencing report and community sentencing paper.
It was also fantastic to witness the Green Party pass a motion which prioritises tackling the discrimination face by Romani (Gypsy), Roma and Traveller people. At the core of the issues that face our communities is discrimination, by making tackling this issue a priority we can hold the Green Party to account where ever they hold power and ensure justice.
The Labour Party Conference
The feeling from the Labour Party conference was that they are the government in waiting. That is why it was so vital that we had a voice at the conference and remind them we are here.
As with the Green Party conference the Labour conference was a success for the Traveller Movement. We ensured our demands were heard in discussions on Violence against Women and Girls, the Economy, Education and Justice. It was also a privilege to speak at a round table hosted by Youth Futures Foundation titled ‘Unlocking our future Workforce: Tackling Structural Racial Inequality’. At the table was Annaliese Dodds (Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities), Bell Ribeiro Addy MP (Member of Parliament for Streatham) Seyi Obakin (Youth Futures Foundation) and Barry Fletcher (CEO, Youth Futures Foundation). At the meeting we raised the importance of fully disaggregated 18+1 ethnic monitoring as well as the drastic need for targeted provision.
During the conference we also managed to secure meetings with numerous members of parliament including Jess Phillips with whom we discussed our work supporting our communities’ women as well as our film ‘Never Going to Beat You’. Vitally it was our presentation of our ‘Roads to Success’ paper to Anneliese Dodds that was the most important event of the conference. The Labour Party are looking to enact a new bolder Equalities Act if they win the next general election, however it cannot work unless there is full consideration of Romani (Gypsy), Roma and Irish Traveller experiences. We will be liaising with the Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary to ensure the Labour Party have a plan for a truly inclusive Equalities Act.
In Kier Starmer’s speech he laid out his vision for a Labour run UK. He wants to unleash big build, greater devolution, set forth a decade of renewal and build a country where everyone, regardless of background felt respected. For this to happen we call for the Labour Party to ensure that the needs and experiences of Romani (Gypsy), Roma, and Irish Traveller are at the heart of policy making.
Though conference season is winding down, we will continue to hold every political party account in order to ensure whoever is in power puts equity and justice first.
Next up, the Traveller Movement Annual Conference: Future Voices. Book your tickets here