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BASW supports pledge to increase access to higher education for students from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities

The pledge consists of a firm commitment by a university, college or educational institution to undertake steps to support GTRSB students into and within higher education.

The GRTSW Association in partnership with JUCSWEC and BASW express support for efforts to increase access to higher education for students from Gypsy Roma and Traveller communities, which includes students from New Traveller, Showman and Boater communities.

The Gypsy Roma and Traveller Social Work Association has highlighted the importance of a pledge for Higher Education Institutes to show their commitment to increasing access for students from Gypsy Roma and Traveller communities, including students from New Traveller, Showman and Boater communities (GTRSB).

The GTRSB into Higher Education Pledge consists of a firm commitment by a University, College or educational Institution to undertake certain steps to support GTRSB students into and within higher education.

Developed after consultation with GTRSB community members, civil society organisations, university representatives, and education policy specialists, the Pledge sets out to deliver effective practice and also create an open and welcoming environment.

There are very few GTRSB university students and graduates in the UK. Ensuring support and access to Higher Education for members of these ethnic minority populations is therefore a matter of social justice, impacting as it does greater access to employment, increased social mobility, enhanced opportunity and visibility, and increased equality for members of the GTR populations.

Gypsy Roma and Traveller Social Work Association member Allison Hulmes said: “One important and tangible way of improving understanding between social workers and Gypsies, Roma and Travellers is to create an environment where more community members are able to enter the profession. 

"This has been a primary motivation in setting up of the GRTSW Association - to be visible and to act as role models for members of our community to believe the profession is open, inclusive, and diverse.

"The GRTSBintoHE Pledge will play a vital role in achieving this ambition. For those higher education institutions with social work programmes, signing ‘The Pledge’ will be an active expression of our social work codes of ethics and their commitment to anti-oppressive practice."

The Joint University Council Social Work Education Committee (JUCSWEC) Chair, Dr Janet Melville-Wiseman expressed her support and stated: “As a Learned Society representing the UK social work education sector we are pleased to support this important work and circulate the pledge to our membership.  We encourage them to ask their Vice-Chancellors and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion committees to sign the pledge and become pro-active in challenging barriers to inclusion and success for GTRSB students in higher education.  We are also pleased to stand beside the GRTSWA to affirm our commitment to the raising of awareness of discrimination against GTRSB communities within social work and for consequent anti-oppressive practice approaches to be given primacy within the curriculum.

The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) is committed to supporting equality diversity and inclusion across social work. BASW’s Equality Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group has identified the importance of social work education within this, and of a representative workforce.

Chair of BASW, Gerry Nosowska, highlighted that in September the association committed to work together with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities to bring about mutual understanding and respect for each other’s cultures. This pledge is one way of showing that commitment.

The Pledge will be formally launched with an online event hosted by Baroness Whittaker (chair of APPG on Gypsies and Travellers) on 20th January 2021.

We encourage all Higher Education Institutes that have a social work course to proactively look at the Pledge and identify how they can commit to its principles and actions.