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Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Month Blog

Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month begins on June 1st

‘Gelem, Gelem’

‘Gelem, gelem, lungone dromensa
Maladilem bakhtale Romensa
A Romale, katar tumen aven,
E tsarentsa bahtale Rromentsa?

I went, I went on long roads
I met happy Roma
O Roma, where do you come from,
With tents happy on the road?’

Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month begins on June 1st.  and was started in 2008 by the Traveller community in Brent and the head of the Traveller Education Service as a way of counteracting negative stereotypes and prejudices and focusing on the rich and diverse contributions Gypsies, Roma and Travellers have made to British society.

Did you know that Gypsies, Roma and Travellers are the largest ethnic minority group in Europe with over 12 million people, they have an international flag which unites them and an international anthem too - ‘Gelem, Gelem’

This is certainly a challenging start to GRT History Month with the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill making its way through the various parliamentary stages before it inevitably becomes legislation. Part 4 of the Bill impacts disproportionately on Romani and Traveller people by criminalising ‘trespass with intent to reside’. It threatens to annihilate centuries long nomadic practices and enforce assimilation.

Being able to travel is deeply rooted in the psyche and inherited consciousness of all Gypsies, Roma and Travellers who have a profound connection to nature; to animals; to the flow of the seasons and to the many moods of the weather. Despite the stereotyping of Gypsies, Roma and Travellers as litterers and leaving a mess, they actually tread lightly and respectfully on the earth and wish to continue to meet ‘…happy Roma…with tents on happy roads’ without fear of persecution or criminalisation.

Throughout this month the GRTSW Association and BASW will be shining a light on the rich and diverse culture and history of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities in the UK.

Please follow us on Twitter @GRTSWAssoc and let us know at what you’re doing in your teams and places of study, for GRT History month. Do send us your photos so that we can share.

Kushti bokt!

Allison Hulmes

National Director, BASW Cymru

Co-Founder GRTSW Association.