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Cambridge City Council

Supporting Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month

24 June 2022

Since 2008, people from across the UK have marked Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month during June. Through celebration, education and awareness raising, the month helps to tackle prejudice, challenge myths and amplify the voices of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people in wider society.

The 2022 theme is #WhatMakesAHome?, and the Friends, Families and Travellers organisation has created a brilliant ‘What makes a home?’ resource pack which everyone is invited to use to discover more – whether in your professional role or as an interested individual.

Find out about Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people through history; hear what Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people across the UK think of when they think of home; or pick up some words and phrases in Romani dialects or Irish or Scottish Cant.

We are working on a number of upcoming projects to support Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people:

  • From 22 to 26 June the 809th annual Midsummer Fair event takes place on Midsummer Common in Cambridge. The funfair style event is free to attend, with numerous stalls and rides to enjoy. The council is working with the Showmen’s Guild, whose members gain their livelihoods by travelling to and attending funfairs across the country, to help ensure the success of this year’s event and to provide heritage and craft activities at the event for children of the travelling families
  • With partners across Cambridgeshire, the council is running a Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Heritage project, which has begun in Wisbech and will roll out across the county in the coming months
  • Internally, plans are underway to run training on Gypsy, Roma and Traveller history and culture, and looking at barriers faced by the community, for all council colleagues
  • The council will be supporting a Gypsy, Roma and Traveller cultural event, to be hosted at the Corn Exchange later in the year
  • It was agreed at Full Council in July 2021 that the council would work more closely with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, particularly in light of the policing bill – where there are concerns that Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities will be criminalised under new legislation – and to write to the Home Secretary about these concerns.
  • The council also plans to explore potential temporary and/or permanent accommodation options for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, using the results of the Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Needs assessment that is currently under way, along with other evidence, to inform whether sites and/ or places for temporary stopping are needed locally.

Cllr Mairéad Healy, Executive Councillor for Equalities, Anti-Poverty and Wellbeing, said: “The council has pledged to stand in solidarity with Traveller and Gypsy communities, to ensure we are meeting identified housing need for these communities, ensuring they can access public services, and to tackle the hate crime and discrimination they experience – such as action we took a few months ago in relation to Jimmy Carr’s appearance in Cambridge following his offensive remarks targeted at Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. During June, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month gives us an opportunity to restate our support for the community, and to encourage others to join in too.  

“Through the motion we initiated at last year’s July council meeting, we committed to building stronger relationships with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities and we will ensure we are listening directly to community members and working on a cross-party basis to deliver on any future site. I want to particularly welcome Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities from far and wide visiting our city this June for Midsummer Fair – during Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month – and I am looking forward to joining in some of the activities including a workshop with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children.”

The council’s support for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month is part of its wider commitment to strengthening equality and diversity in Cambridge. You can find out more about our ongoing Equality and Diversity work on our webpage, including:

  • Our equality and diversity policy
  • Our Equality Value Statement, which sets out the responsibility of our staff
  • Our Single Equality Scheme 2021 to 2024, which is our current plan and includes objectives and actions around our Public Sector Equality Duty
  • And the council’s Equality Pledge – which encourages partners and individuals to show their commitment to challenging discrimination and promoting equality of opportunity by signing the Pledge – which the council is a co-founder and signatory of.

Look out for updates on our upcoming projects on our website, or by following us on Facebook and Twitter.

The executive councillor leading on this matter is Cllr Mairéad Healy, (Labour) Executive Councillor for Equalities, Anti-Poverty and Wellbeing. Spokespersons for the other political groups on this issue are Cllr Cheney Payne (Liberal Democrat) and Cllr Hannah Copley (Green/Independent Group).