What is Supporting Roma Voice (SRV) about?
SRV is a new project which aims to support the inclusion of Central and Eastern European Roma populations within the UK through a rights based approach to gathering evidence and developing advocacy and leadership.
There is no doubt that there is an increasing number of articulate and engaged Roma in the UK, but more can be done. SRV is about providing the space and resources to support this process. But on the other hand, if services are not willing to listen to Roma, and don’t have a good understanding of the issues that are important to them, this is likely to block progress. That is why a vital part of SRV involves building bridges between Roma populations and statutory and community organisations from which rights based inclusion initiatives can be implemented.
The project was established by a partnership of the University of Salford, BHA for Equality, the Roma Support Group and Migration Yorkshire, but is led by Roma people themselves. It is funded jointly by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and Metropolitan Migration Foundation, and runs for two years from 2015 -2017.
Why Roma? Why now?
Over the past decade there has been a significant growth in the size and diversity of Roma communities across the UK. Many have come from situations of severe exclusion and marginalisation and have faced overt discrimination from services. Statutory agencies in many places across the UK have consistently reported a lack of knowledge concerning Roma communities in their area and engagement and consultation remains patchy. At the same time, the UK government has produced a limited set of proposals to aid Roma inclusion.
What do we mean by a ‘rights based approach’?
A ‘rights based approach’ is one that focuses on giving people the knowledge and capacity to control decisions about their own lives, rather than simply receiving support to change or improve their situation. It has often been used in the developing world by organisations like Amnesty International, who want to move away from just helping excluded communities without changing the situation that created the exclusion in the first place.
Who is SRV?
SRV is recruiting 7 people (one Co-ordinator and 6 advocates) to work across three very different locations within the UK – Newham in East London, Salford in Greater Manchester and Sheffield in South Yorkshire. The team is:
Community Co-ordinator (based in Salford, Manchester) – Orsolya Orsos
Community Inclusion Advocate in London – Sindy Czureja & Daniela Kierpacz
Community Inclusion Advocate in Salford – Marin Popov & Maria Palmai
Community Inclusion Advocate in Sheffield – Terezia Rostas & Radu Marian
This project adopts the 10 Basic Principles of Roma Inclusion.
So what will the project do?
Year One will focus on relationship building. Firstly, the advocates will establish solid links with local Roma communities in their area. This is important for several reasons. While all were employed because they come from a Roma background, nobody can have experience of all the different elements of a community. So its essential to understand more about the diversity of the community (gender, age, nationality, language etc.) as this will lay the groundwork for the advocates to organize participatory research. This is partly why we tried to recruit a team which went some way to reflect the diversity of Roma community in the UK itself.
The advocates task is to organize a series of focus groups in each area to gather evidence on the particular issues and needs in the area. this way we hope to get a cross section of views. The second, complementary task is to introduce the project to key local services. Part of this is finding out about their inclusion and engagement strategies, how they implement them on the ground, and whether Roma feature in their thinking.
Year 2 focuses on developing those relationships further maintain dialogue with local policy makers, practitioners and Roma community to ensure the evidence captured in year one is embedded in the strategies and action plans of services.