What is GRTHM?
By Jake Bowers
Britain’s 300,000 Gypsies, Roma and Travellers have lived, worked and travelled throughout Britain for over 500 years, yet we have been almost entirely written out of British history.
Go to most museums, libraries and schools and nothing about our history and culture is kept or taught. The result is a widespread ignorance about who we are, which sometimes turns to hatred, fear and misunderstanding. In schools, children learn more about the Romans, Vikings or even fairies than they do about our cultures and what we have contributed to this world.
Gypsy, Roma and Traveller history month aims to change that. Ninety years ago the Black community realised how powerful remembering and sharing their history could be. So this June, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities are coming together, with central government backing, to begin the long overdue task of educating the British public about who we are and where we come from.
We’re doing it for one simple reason: if people do not realise that we were an important part of Britain’s past, they will never accept us as a crucial part of Britain’s future.
Quite simply, ignorance about who we are and where we come from leads to ruined lives.
Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month celebrates our culture and history by tackling the negative stereotyping and prejudices that have led to this situation.
Gypsy, Roma and Traveller history month is a partnership between our communities and those in local and central government who want to help us, but it needs the active involvement of everybody from the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community to succeed.
At the very least please go to the events in June, read the History Month magazine to be published in May.
If you can sing, dance, carve, tell stories, read poems, play the spoons, show off your old wagon or horses, or share your past in any way contact your regional organiser (see back page) and help put on an event or join in with another in your area.
The hard facts:
The Children’s Society reports that nearly 9 out of every 10 children and young people from a Gypsy background have suffered racial abuse and nearly two thirds have also been bullied or physically attacked.
The Department for Children Schools and Families recognises that the educational achievement of Gypsy Roma and Traveller youth is the worst in the country.
The Department of Health accepts that Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities have the worst health and lowest life expectancy in the country.
A guide to playing a part in GRTHM. Written specially by the IrishTraveller Movement in Britain this booklet - downloadable or available to read online - gives lots of information on getting ideas, organising events, funding and more...