Policy Cooperation and Innovation Roma Multilateral project

Policy Cooperation and Innovation Roma Multilateral project

Implementation period: March 2012 – March 2013

This project was led by the BHA for Equality (BHA) in collaboration with the Manchester City Council International New Arrivals, Travellers and Supplementary Schools Team (INA/T/SS Team) in the UK. As international partners in this project the leading organizations worked with the Fundación Secretariado Gitano in Spain and Pharos (Dutch Centre of Expertise on Health Disparities) in the Netherlands. The project focused specifically on newly arriving Roma in the partner countries. This refers to Roma who have migrated to partner countries in more recent years – particularly following the accession of several Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries – rather than focusing on long established or indigenous Roma populations.

There are widely acknowledged issues around Roma and education, with low levels of attendance – particularly at secondary school level – and poor educational attainment being two commonly cited concerns.

The objective of this project was to support the creation of transnational cooperation projects to develop lifelong learning measures for Roma integration, joining up educational and other social measures such as health, employment and housing. Furthermore, the programme aim was to raise participation and attainment levels of Roma students in education and VET (Vocational Education and Training).

The project specific objectives were:

  1. To support the development of Roma communities:
  • Supporting individuals to make informed choices and understand the value of formal education
  • Supporting young people to develop as mediators and become role models for others
  1.  To support educational inclusion through raising awareness amongst professionals
  • Accurate information-sharing regarding local Roma populations
  • Highlighting potential barriers to integration and identifying solutions
  • Recognition and understanding of specific experiences and strengths of Roma
  • Provision of practical guidance to support professionals to develop effective strategies for working with children, families and the wider Roma communities

Within this project a broad research was developed in order to explore and assess:

  • Existing data on newly arriving Roma communities in the Netherlands, Spain and the UK, with a specific focus on demographic data and education indicators;
  • Perceptions of the barriers to Roma educational inclusion by key stakeholders in the Netherlands, Spain and the UK.

In this research we sought to explore some of the main underlying reasons for these acknowledged issues, from the perspective of key stakeholders. It looks at the key issues of engagement with the Roma children from the perspective of selected stakeholders – teachers and head teachers, local authorities’ educational services and voluntary sector.

What was evident from the interviews was that there were a range of issues that were sometimes interrelated, but more importantly combined to create a complex picture in relation to engagement (or lack of) in education. The research report ‘What’s working?’: Promoting the inclusion of Roma in and through education: Transnational policy review research report’ provides an overview of educational practices towards Roma in chosen EU countries, including a case study in the Manchester region, UK.


Project Team:

Publications

  • What’s Working for Roma in Schools: A Network Learning Book, 2013

Authors: Jane Murphy

Publisher: Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Education Trust, Manchester

  • ‘What’s working?’: Promoting the inclusion of Roma in and through education: Transnational policy review and research report, March 2013

Authors: Lisa Scullion and Philip Brown

Publisher: University of Salford

http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/35793/1/What%27s%20working%20-%20FINAL%20REPORT%20March%202013.pdf

Donors

This project was funded by the European Commission’s Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) through the Lifelong Learning Programme

Roma’s S.M.I.L.E. Project

Roma’s S.M.I.L.E. Project. Supporting motivations to Intervene on Learning and Experience

Implementation period: November 2013 – November 2015

The Roma’s S.M.I.L.E. Project it was led by Fondazione Villa Montesca (Italy) in collaboration with other 5 organisations: the BHA (UK); the Italian Gypsy Association TODAY AIZO (Italy); the Municipality of Koprivnica (Croatia); ADRA BULGARIA Foundation (Bulgaria) and the European Office of Information on Roma – ERIO (Belgium). The S.M.I.L.E. project key objective was to establish formal cooperation between the communities in which students live and institutions or associations, both Roma and gadje, which are considered as reference points in student education. The idea of the whole project is to approach the problem in a holistic manner through the establishment of educational community that will actively provide concrete answers and solutions to problems.

One of the main areas of S.M.I.L.E. was to support the primary schools in their effort of involving Roma students, creating a welcoming learning environment for the Roma children and families and developing a sense of community through the foundation of a new spirit of Community feeling, based on the concept of “prosociality”. Each student depends on the other group members to successfully complete the task. This feature fosters the power of positive peer interactions-students are motivated to achieve at a high level because their classmates are depending on them. As students teach and learn from each other, the students who are modeling the thinking process must actively reflect on the strategies they are using to solve problems. Social and cognitive skills operate jointly in the real world that exists outside the classroom; they need to be practiced together in the classroom. 

One of the key activities conducted by The BHA in the UK was to deliver several Teachers Training sessions. The sessions were carried out with a group of young, newly-qualified, teachers aged between 20 and 22 at a primary school in North Manchester with a significant number of Roma pupils. Likewise, another activity was related with the in-class support by a Teaching Assistant with Roma pupils. The worker has participated in meetings with school staff and parents to discuss language support and to support mediation between parents and the School Attendance Team. One practical outcome has been translating the school’s Attendance Policy into Romani, Bulgarian and Spanish this is used to assist parents who cannot read English and is available in printed form and on the school’s web-site. Another activity is related with the out home visits to parents to discuss registration, school application and attendance.

In order to support the objectives of the wider project, a Community Based Participatory Research was developed in order to explore and assess:

  • Identification of the cultural causes of prejudices;
  • Mutual perception of childhood;
  • Adults’ idea about school as a socialization and education environment.

The main goal of this research was to ensure the needed knowledge about the historical and social background of the final beneficiaries – Roma and Gage communities, to measure their attitudes and recommend a mediation strategy.

Within this project has been produced the project’s S.M.I.L.E. Manual for Educators. The Manual is specifically addressed to social actors, especially to teachers, social operators, policy makers and public representatives, Roma and Gadje. The Manual draws attention to the often difficult debate of building a list of concrete measures or what we have defined as “community of concrete answers”. This manual intends to support the primary schools in their effort to create a welcoming learning environment for the Roma children and families, by developing a sense of community through establishing a new communal spirit based on the concept of prosociality. Creating a prosocial environment in schools determines an opportunity to develop or reinforce the basic skills in Roma students.

The Manual also contains the Documentary “ROOMS”. ROOMS is a documentary that shows the life and culture of the Roma through concrete situations and social examples. By enacting the dialogue, the meeting and the exchange of points of view between Roma and non-Roma, the documentary will allow all viewers to deepen their knowledge about the complex reality of the Roma community. The viewers will see a community, not exempt from strong prejudices by the Western society, to promote and strengthen the possible forms of cohabitation.


Project Team:

Publications:

Roma’s Smile. Educative measures for fostering education and inclusion of Roma children based on prosociality, October 2015

Edited by Fabrizio Boldrini, Maria Rita Bracchini

http://www.montesca.eu/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Romas-SMILE-Fabrizio-Boldrini-Maria-Rita-Bracchini.epub

Other materials:

Documentary movie: ROOMS, Director: Alfredo Federico, Writers: Alfredo Federico and Alessandro di Nuzzo

Editor: Alessandro Minestrini

Donors

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. Lifelong Learning Programme KA1 Policy Co-operation

The Routes Project

The Routes Project

Implementation period: March 2009 – March 2013

This project was led by the Manchester International New Arrivals, Travellers and Supplementary Schools Team (INA/T/SS Team) in partnership with the BHA for Equality; Big Life Company and Manchester Adult Education Service, amongst others.

The INA/T/SS Team have had direct and close contact with the Romanian Roma community through supporting access to education, signposting to other services and working with partners in schools to ensure successful induction and to extend and strengthen provision. The core of the INA/T/SS Teamwork with BHA for Equality was assertive outreach work with children and families in the new Roma community. The Routes Project works in an holistic way which builds on existing strengths of newly arrived families, identified the needs of the whole family and seeks address these. There is a continuous relationship between outreach worker and family which results in empathy, understanding and trust.

The project also support families to access the right to health services to improve their quality of life. Each family was allocated an outreach worker following a referral to the routes and are then part of an ongoing action and case review until their outcomes are met. As part of this process, the INA/T/SS Team consulted with over 40 members of the Romanian Roma community about their needs in terms of accessing education and finding employment. It was during this process that a group of young men with bilingual skills were identified and partnership agencies were subsequently offered training and support to develop the skills needed within schools and community groups. While the INA/T/SS Team employed two of the group as bilingual classroom assistants in a local secondary school, the Big Life Company funded placements for five more of the group.

The Big Life Company started to develop a skills development programme for young people, including Roma, which was very successful. They also worked closely with the BHA for Equality, making a partnership agreement that, once Roma pupils had been through a skills development programme to become interpreters, they would sign up with the BHA for Equality as interpreters. This meant that from this point onwards Roma interpreters would be readily available for all agencies across the city. This multi-agency work linked up well with the work of two outreach workers to conduct outreach work in schools, and three more to work holistically with the community to identify newly arrived Roma families. Collectively, these developments provided a means of working with the new community to gain a deeper understanding of their past experiences, strengths and aspirations.

Between December 2009 and June 2010, the INA/T/SS Team conducted an internal research based on a series of structured interviews with families and young people from the Romanian Roma community in Manchester’s Longsight and Levenshulme. Research results can be found on a report ‘What’s working: conversations with Manchester’s Romanian Roma community living in Longsight and Levenshulme’. Likewise, an additional research set out to examine the role of multi-agency partnership work engaging Roma groups across England and supporting Roma children into school. The research had three specific aims:

  • To explore the challenges faced by those working with Roma
  • To examine how multi agency partnership work impacts on the numbers of Roma children in secondary schools
  • To assess the potential impact of proposed changes to the school funding system

The conclusion of this research can be found on the report: ‘A report into the impact of multi-agency work supporting Roma children in education’ published by the BHA in December 2012.


Project Team:

  •  

Publications:

  • A report into the impact of multi-agency work supporting Roma children in education, December 2012

Author: John Lever

https://pure.hud.ac.uk/ws/portalfiles/portal/14279958/A_report_into_the_impact_of_multi_agency_work_supporting_Roma_children_in_education.pdf
  • What’s working: conversations with Manchester’s Romanian Roma community living in Longsight and Levenshulme, 2010

Authors: Julie Davies and Jane Murphy

https://www.natt.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/whats-working.pdf

  • Long Roads. Roma Heritage Teaching Toolkit, 2011

Author: The BHA for Equality

Donors:

This project was funded by: Migrant Impact Fund; Children’s fund ABG and Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant (EMAG) and funding from former Working Neighbourhood Fund (WNF) allocation to Children’s Services

Supporting Roma Voices

Supporting Roma Voices

Implementation period: January 2015 to December 2017

Supporting Roma Voice (SRV) was a multi-agency, practice led project, national project developed by the BHA within a partnership with the University of Salford  (Manchester) and Roma Support Group (London).

The project was designed as a practical 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. Its core aim was to develop a sustainable right based and evidence led model for Roma inclusion in the UK to support the growth of grassroots community advocacy as part of the growth of an inclusive and engaged Roma community in the UK.

The project 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.  

The project followed three main directions:

1. To conduct a participatory research with Roma people in several locations in UK and get a broad view of the issues Roma are facing across the country. The aim of this research was to explore the following issues:

  • The settlement and integration experiences of Roma migrants living in areas across the UK.
  • The specific areas of community relations, housing, education, employment and social welfare and their role in settlement in the UK.
  • The provision of knowledge that would enable local authorities and other services to enhance the settlement experience of Roma migrants now and in the future.

2. 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.

3. To develop a dialogue with officials around the specific needs of Roma communities and how to work towards inclusion.

A total of 159 people participated in 19 focus groups, which took place in the following locations: Glasgow, Leicester, London, Oldham, Salford and Sheffield.

An intrinsic part of the project’s remit was the personal development of the team members themselves.


Project Team:

Orsolya Orsos, Project Coordinator

Publications:

Supporting Roma Voices Research Report, December 2016

Authors: Philip Brown, Daniel Allen, Sindy Czureja, Liviu Dinu, Szymon Glowacki, Gabi Hesk, Sylvia Ingmire, Philip Martin, Orsolya Orsos; Maria Palmai & Terezia Rostas

Publisher: University of Salford

https://www.salford.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/1155608/SRV-Final-Report-Dec-2016.pdf

Other materials:

Suporting Roma Voice Presentation

By: University of Salford

Donors:

This project was funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and the Metropolitan Migration Foundation.

Romani Wellbeing Project

Romani Wellbeing Project

Implementation period: April 2017 – April 2020

The aim of this project is to provide advice and support Romani people living in Manchester to improve access to a diversity of possible social needs, related to the social inclusion of the community and its members. This project make a distinction between individual/family social requirements and group social needs of the Roma, as a specific ethnic migrant community. The individual and family needs that arose during our work and are addressed within this project are predominantly about building individual capacity to gain knowledge of their social rights, improving their own skills and access various types of social opportunities (e.g. education system, welfare system, NHS system, housing rights, employment/work rights). The project objectives are:

  • Inspire the next generations to be the best they can;
  • Support people to find work, stay in work and progress at work;
  • Improve health and wellbeing;

Our services reach out some of the most vulnerable and excluded members of the Roma community, including older people, single parents, people with mental health issues and physical disabilities. Nonetheless, an additional focus of this project is on the Roma community need to develop a community leadership and self-organisation. The importance of self-reliance and having influence on how the needs of Roma are interpreted and problematized is stressed both when addressing individual or collective social needs.  Through this project we want to continue to support Roma migrants by:

1.     English for Speakers of Other Languages Class

One of our main activities is to equip Roma beneficiaries with knowledge and skills that will enable them to independently seek employment. There is evidence to show that a language barrier is one of the main obstacles in accessing the labour market, so within this project we seek opportunities to engage various organizations that would be able to offer support in the provision of ESOL classes. Between October 2018 and April 2019, the BHA in collaboration with the LifeSkills Manchester initiate the first class of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). The class was led by a qualified language teacher and has a helpful assistant to support 10 individual learners. The graduation of this first class has been held at the end of April 2019 when all the students received an ESOL Class Graduation Certificate. Nevertheless, this highlights the need for local adult literacy and English classes, as key to families’ ability to participate in community life. 

2.     Educational and Qualification attainment

Research suggests that the marginalisation of Roma is exacerbated by their limited access to educational opportunities, systematic exclusion from schools, negative education experiences, low qualifications and early drop out. Underlying factors, such as family poverty, poor education of parents, perceived discrimination and racism experienced in schools contribute further to their limited opportunities. Within this project we considered that guiding people efficiently through the network of available education services at the first opportunity helps avoid risks to children’s safety and wellbeing and ensures that families integrate effectively. Therefore, we provide support to Roma families for the registration of their minor children within the education system. We also provide any advice to school staff in relation with educational matters related with the educational achievement of Roma pupils or students in schools. The project also aim to encourage and support Roma young people to continue with their studies to achieve higher qualifications

3.     Employment support and advice

Roma tend to face much larger barriers to labour market integration than non-Roma migrants from central and eastern Europe. One of the core objectives of this project is to provide advice and support to those Roma migrants that are Jobless but actively seeking for work. For instance, the process of applying for a National Insurance number is the same for Non-EU citizens, although you must have the right to work or study in the UK to obtain it. Within this project we offer advice and support to Roma migrants for obtaining this important document.  Likewise, we provide guidance and direct support to Roma Jobseekers for building CVs; online job search and various Job applications.

4. Self-Employment and Career advice

During this project we have noticed that a good number of Roma migrants have already developed a self-employed business in various areas, such as: cleaning services, trading, satellite antenna, constructions or driving. However, most of the self-employed we meet are men’s and only very few women embarked on the self-employment path. While men work, women tend to look after children or older relatives, deal with bills or letters from services. While many women were happy with their domestic roles, some talked about wanting to engage in further education, find employment or participate in community activities. We decided to evaluate the skills of the women in order to link those to skills to self-employment opportunities. Therefore, we have promoted the idea that self-employment is not only a men’s opportunity but also can be a viable option for women.

5.     Welfare Assistance support

Many Roma families have limited knowledge of the possibilities available to them or had no confidence to access these. Many families relied on informal networks to get information on health, welfare, housing, social work. An additional objective of this project is to enable those families which go through a crisis or change in employment to access welfare benefits. This temporary welfare supports it is important to prevent starvation, disease, and overall misery among the poorest of the target group. As results of this activity we provided support and advice [application and interviews] to three families to access the Universal Credit benefits system. Nevertheless, improving communication with families on how services operate and what services can do for them remains a priority of this project.

6.     Housing

Roma migrants living in Manchester face multiple dimensions of disadvantage across housing. With very few exceptions, Roma migrants in Manchester live in rental accommodation. During this project we built concerns about dishonest behaviour of some of the landlords. Often our beneficiaries are worried about requesting home repairs or maintenance although they rent the property with the explicit responsibility of the landlords to repair and maintain the property. A similar problem is that some of the tenants don’t receive receipts for the rent they are paying to the landlords. Our Support Worker advise various Roma tenants in various issues such as the legal requirements for the landlords to ensure their home is safe and in good repair; to direct the tenancy deposit to The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS); to receive receipts every time they pay the rent.

7.     Access to Health Services

An added objective of this project is to ensure that Roma migrants have access to health services. One of the major setbacks seems to be related with the GP registration. Although the NHS regulation and judicial recommendations settle very clearly that for EU citizens applies the same rules in terms of registration, we met a number of cases where Roma migrants have been refused to be register by GP reception staff on the ground that they need to provide a relevant ‘proof of address’. Many of new arrivals had the opportunity to provide only Tenancy agreement, and some of them, because they live with their relatives, neither of these documents.  In our view there is an obvious need for health service providers to take an active approach to engaging with Roma migrants. If there is a general problem with the GP staff attitude towards the Roma migrants, as we found, this might be an issue that needs impending and urgent exploration.  We also plan to find alternative methods to ensure Roma communities are aware of and comfortable with using NHS services. This could include contacting trusted Roma individuals who can act as community mediators or direct involvement of the NHS by hiring members of staff to translate and communicate directly with the community. It could also involve thinking imaginatively about how different services interconnect and where engagement with Roma migrants in the local authority is most extensive.

Supporting Roma Voices

Supporting Roma Voices

Implementation period: January 2015 to December 2017

Supporting Roma Voice (SRV) was a multi-agency, practice led project, national project developed by the BHA within a partnership with the University of Salford  (Manchester) and Roma Support Group (London).

The project was designed as a practical 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. Its core aim was to develop a sustainable right based and evidence led model for Roma inclusion in the UK to support the growth of grassroots community advocacy as part of the growth of an inclusive and engaged Roma community in the UK.

The project 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.  

The project followed three main directions:

1. To conduct a participatory research with Roma people in several locations in UK and get a broad view of the issues Roma are facing across the country. The aim of this research was to explore the following issues:

  • The settlement and integration experiences of Roma migrants living in areas across the UK.
  • The specific areas of community relations, housing, education, employment and social welfare and their role in settlement in the UK.
  • The provision of knowledge that would enable local authorities and other services to enhance the settlement experience of Roma migrants now and in the future.

2. 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.

3. To develop a dialogue with officials around the specific needs of Roma communities and how to work towards inclusion.

A total of 159 people participated in 19 focus groups, which took place in the following locations: Glasgow, Leicester, London, Oldham, Salford and Sheffield.

An intrinsic part of the project’s remit was the personal development of the team members themselves.


Project Team:

Orsolya Orsos, Project Coordinator

Publications:

Supporting Roma Voices Research Report, December 2016

Authors: Philip Brown, Daniel Allen, Sindy Czureja, Liviu Dinu, Szymon Glowacki, Gabi Hesk, Sylvia Ingmire, Philip Martin, Orsolya Orsos; Maria Palmai & Terezia Rostas

Publisher: University of Salford

https://www.salford.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/1155608/SRV-Final-Report-Dec-2016.pdf

Other materials:

Suporting Roma Voice Presentation

By: University of Salford

Donors:

This project was funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and the Metropolitan Migration Foundation.

Romani Wellbeing Project

Romani Wellbeing Project

Implementation period: April 2017 – April 2020

The aim of this project is to provide advice and support Romani people living in Manchester to improve access to a diversity of possible social needs, related to the social inclusion of the community and its members. This project make a distinction between individual/family social requirements and group social needs of the Roma, as a specific ethnic migrant community. The individual and family needs that arose during our work and are addressed within this project are predominantly about building individual capacity to gain knowledge of their social rights, improving their own skills and access various types of social opportunities (e.g. education system, welfare system, NHS system, housing rights, employment/work rights). The project objectives are:

  • Inspire the next generations to be the best they can;
  • Support people to find work, stay in work and progress at work;
  • Improve health and wellbeing;

Our services reach out some of the most vulnerable and excluded members of the Roma community, including older people, single parents, people with mental health issues and physical disabilities. Nonetheless, an additional focus of this project is on the Roma community need to develop a community leadership and self-organisation. The importance of self-reliance and having influence on how the needs of Roma are interpreted and problematized is stressed both when addressing individual or collective social needs.  Through this project we want to continue to support Roma migrants by:

1.     English for Speakers of Other Languages Class

One of our main activities is to equip Roma beneficiaries with knowledge and skills that will enable them to independently seek employment. There is evidence to show that a language barrier is one of the main obstacles in accessing the labour market, so within this project we seek opportunities to engage various organizations that would be able to offer support in the provision of ESOL classes. Between October 2018 and April 2019, the BHA in collaboration with the LifeSkills Manchester initiate the first class of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). The class was led by a qualified language teacher and has a helpful assistant to support 10 individual learners. The graduation of this first class has been held at the end of April 2019 when all the students received an ESOL Class Graduation Certificate. Nevertheless, this highlights the need for local adult literacy and English classes, as key to families’ ability to participate in community life. 

2.     Educational and Qualification attainment

Research suggests that the marginalisation of Roma is exacerbated by their limited access to educational opportunities, systematic exclusion from schools, negative education experiences, low qualifications and early drop out. Underlying factors, such as family poverty, poor education of parents, perceived discrimination and racism experienced in schools contribute further to their limited opportunities. Within this project we considered that guiding people efficiently through the network of available education services at the first opportunity helps avoid risks to children’s safety and wellbeing and ensures that families integrate effectively. Therefore, we provide support to Roma families for the registration of their minor children within the education system. We also provide any advice to school staff in relation with educational matters related with the educational achievement of Roma pupils or students in schools. The project also aim to encourage and support Roma young people to continue with their studies to achieve higher qualifications

3.     Employment support and advice

Roma tend to face much larger barriers to labour market integration than non-Roma migrants from central and eastern Europe. One of the core objectives of this project is to provide advice and support to those Roma migrants that are Jobless but actively seeking for work. For instance, the process of applying for a National Insurance number is the same for Non-EU citizens, although you must have the right to work or study in the UK to obtain it. Within this project we offer advice and support to Roma migrants for obtaining this important document.  Likewise, we provide guidance and direct support to Roma Jobseekers for building CVs; online job search and various Job applications.

4. Self-Employment and Career advice

During this project we have noticed that a good number of Roma migrants have already developed a self-employed business in various areas, such as: cleaning services, trading, satellite antenna, constructions or driving. However, most of the self-employed we meet are men’s and only very few women embarked on the self-employment path. While men work, women tend to look after children or older relatives, deal with bills or letters from services. While many women were happy with their domestic roles, some talked about wanting to engage in further education, find employment or participate in community activities. We decided to evaluate the skills of the women in order to link those to skills to self-employment opportunities. Therefore, we have promoted the idea that self-employment is not only a men’s opportunity but also can be a viable option for women.

5.     Welfare Assistance support

Many Roma families have limited knowledge of the possibilities available to them or had no confidence to access these. Many families relied on informal networks to get information on health, welfare, housing, social work. An additional objective of this project is to enable those families which go through a crisis or change in employment to access welfare benefits. This temporary welfare supports it is important to prevent starvation, disease, and overall misery among the poorest of the target group. As results of this activity we provided support and advice [application and interviews] to three families to access the Universal Credit benefits system. Nevertheless, improving communication with families on how services operate and what services can do for them remains a priority of this project.

6.     Housing

Roma migrants living in Manchester face multiple dimensions of disadvantage across housing. With very few exceptions, Roma migrants in Manchester live in rental accommodation. During this project we built concerns about dishonest behaviour of some of the landlords. Often our beneficiaries are worried about requesting home repairs or maintenance although they rent the property with the explicit responsibility of the landlords to repair and maintain the property. A similar problem is that some of the tenants don’t receive receipts for the rent they are paying to the landlords. Our Support Worker advise various Roma tenants in various issues such as the legal requirements for the landlords to ensure their home is safe and in good repair; to direct the tenancy deposit to The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS); to receive receipts every time they pay the rent.

7.     Access to Health Services

An added objective of this project is to ensure that Roma migrants have access to health services. One of the major setbacks seems to be related with the GP registration. Although the NHS regulation and judicial recommendations settle very clearly that for EU citizens applies the same rules in terms of registration, we met a number of cases where Roma migrants have been refused to be register by GP reception staff on the ground that they need to provide a relevant ‘proof of address’. Many of new arrivals had the opportunity to provide only Tenancy agreement, and some of them, because they live with their relatives, neither of these documents.  In our view there is an obvious need for health service providers to take an active approach to engaging with Roma migrants. If there is a general problem with the GP staff attitude towards the Roma migrants, as we found, this might be an issue that needs impending and urgent exploration.  We also plan to find alternative methods to ensure Roma communities are aware of and comfortable with using NHS services. This could include contacting trusted Roma individuals who can act as community mediators or direct involvement of the NHS by hiring members of staff to translate and communicate directly with the community. It could also involve thinking imaginatively about how different services interconnect and where engagement with Roma migrants in the local authority is most extensive.

Roma Family Support

Implementation period: 2013 – 2016

There is an acute need to understand and address the occurrence of disengagement from education by the Eastern European Roma community and how drop-out is influenced by gender and cultural expectations. A culturally sensitive approach is being taken, ensuring that the views of participants are respected and acknowledged.

Our Roma Family Support Project aims to improve the stability and quality of Roma families and community life, through access to services and activities, leading to improved health and wellbeing, reducing levels of social and economic exclusion and increasing economic independence among young people. The project also aims to tackle discrimination and narrow the gap between disadvantaged groups to the wider community and between Manchester and the rest of the country.

The Project was designed to be implemented in a holistic way by helping identify the needs of the whole family and seek to address these in ways which builds on existing strengths of our beneficiaries. We delivered short term targeted interventions to meet the needs of families by providing outreach home visits, meeting families in their environment, engagement on 1-2-1 basis and tailoring support appropriate to the family’s and young people’s needs.

Consultation with young people and parents to address the following areas:

  • Barriers to education including disengagement
  • Attitudes towards education, employment, relationships, health and wellbeing
  • Identify aspirations, interests and enrichment activities.
  • Perspectives on methods of appropriate service delivery to meet identified need

 Assertive Outreach to:

  • Assess the individual needs of the young person in the context of family and education
  • Support young people and their families to gain awareness of rights and responsibilities
  • Develop action plans to address unmet needs e.g. access to health, education

Through our support we aim to achieve the following:

  • To decrease in educational, social and health inequalities;
  • To increase in understanding and collaborative working between the Roma community and services;
  • To reduce educational inequalities experienced by the Roma community, particularly girls;
  • To increase the aspirations held by young people;

Project Team:

  • Orsolya Orsos, Project Coordinator
  • Kinga Lewandowska, Outreach Worker
  • Liviu Dinu, Interpreter

Donors

  • This project was funded by the Equalities Fund at Manchester City Council