Supporting Roma Voice (SRV) was a multi-agency, practice led project, which aimed to support the growth of grassroots community advocacy as part of the growth of an inclusive and engaged Roma community in the UK. The long term success of any grassroots inclusion initiative depends on its sustainability. One practical necessity is investment in the long term development of community members, providing them with the skills and knowledge to be able to engage with, and advocate effectively for Roma on a diversity of issues that matter to them. The flip side of this is having a good awareness of the structures and systems within which major services and policy makers operate.
SRV focused on four thematic areas: Community Relations, Housing, Education and Employment & Social Welfare. The SRV team was made up of 7 individuals of Roma heritage – 6 advocates and a Project Co-ordinator. They were based in four different regions: London, South Yorkshire, the North West of England and the East Midlands and collectively, the team had a wide variety of experiences and backgrounds. They were supported by 3 main partners – the University of Salford, Roma Support Group, (based in London) and BHA for Equality (based in Manchester), with additional assistance from other locally based organisations. The advocates were split between the regional locations, but the Project Co-ordinator was based in Manchester.
Supporting Roma Voice (SRV) had three main activities. In each of the regions, advocates used participatory action research (PAR) to organise focus groups with Roma residents in their locality and gather data on their needs in relation to the 4 thematic areas, and produced a report of their findings. Their second role was to establish working links with the key public services and policy makers operating in the area and gain an understanding of the types of engagement they currently had with Roma or the gaps that exist in delivery. Finally, the team continued to maintain dialogue with both communities and services to support rights based inclusion. An intrinsic part of the project’s remit was the personal development of the team members themselves.
The project began in early 2015 and ran for 24 months.
Funder: Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and the Metropolitan Migration Foundation
Report: Supporting Roma Voice Report
Further information: www.supportingromavoice.com