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InclusionWeek2020 – Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people

BASW Cymru’s Allison Hulmes and Jackie Bolton blog on a stigmatised community and their efforts drive change through social work

It is fitting that the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Social Work Association (GRTSW Association) has been founded so close to this year’s National Inclusion Week, with the theme for 2020 being Each One Reach One.

Fitting because one of the primary motivations for setting up the association, is to act as role models for our communities and effect systemic change to ensure social work becomes more diverse and inclusive of under-represented communities, who sadly, are often over-represented in social work interventions.

As part of our motivation to make sure social work is more inclusive, we aim to reach out to social work programmes and explore how we can collaborate in ensuring they support and promote equal access to higher education in Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) Communities.

Estimates suggest that only 3 - 4 % of the GRT population access higher education.

There are excellent models of inclusion from Bucks New Uni and Kings College London. Bucks New Uni have developed a ‘good practice pledge’ to encourage participation in higher education from GRT communities.

We will be encouraging all Universities and Colleges who offer social work training, to sign up to the ‘good practice pledge’.

Kings College London prioritise applications from GRT students, as part of their widening participation schemes, to address under-representation.

Both Institutions stand out as excellent role models in developing practical ways to widen the inclusion of GRT communities in higher education.

One of our members, Jackie Bolton, has been trying to encourage GRT community members to embark on careers in social work and started mentoring a prospective student this Summer.

She was thrilled when they were accepted onto the course and is looking forward to continuing to support her mentee over the next three years. “I am happy to offer this support as I’ve still got lots of text-books and all my notes from Uni and I would have found mentoring so helpful myself” she said. “I’m also hoping I can learn something!”

It would be good to build up a network of GRT social workers so we can offer mentoring to more students – Each One Reach One.


Jackie Bolton and Allison Hulmes, GRT Social Work Association