“Back in Eastern Europe, none of my family members were able to work. Whenever they tried to get a job, they would be turned away as thieves and beggars. The police treated us the same way – they were applying labels on us. …Now living here, I am a football coach and I know that I wouldn’t be the same person if I had never come to Britain.” – Young Roma, 21 years old
The aim of the Young Roma Advocacy Project was to assist young Roma in addressing poverty, homelessness, racism and inequality through one-to-one advocacy support and a user-led local campaign.
Another aim of the Project is to establish and facilitate the Roma Refugee Children/Young People Forum in East London, which aimed to:
- increase awareness about Roma children and young people’s needs amongst statutory agencies and local government
- improve the quality of their lives in relation to their welfare, health and realising their potentials
- enhance confidence of young Roma by being enabled to speak about their needs, voice opinions and influence policy makers
Throughout the whole Project, 310 young Roma refugee and asylum seekers accessed our one-to-one advocacy service. Advocacy support has enabled 69% of beneficiaries to exercise their welfare rights; 48% to access healthcare and 52% of beneficiaries were supported with their homelessness issues. We also advocated for 13% of our beneficiaries to ensure their rights are exercised through the asylum process and youth justice system.
As a result of the Project, over 60% of young beneficiaries have made a significant and life changing ‘journey’, making progress in education, starting professional careers and becoming role models to inspire other community members.
The main vehicle for the campaign was the Young Roma Refugee and Migrant Forum in East London, which used young people’s experience and advocacy casework as evidence. Some of its main outcomes included contributing to local/ regional strategic planning and service delivery.
The model of the Young Roma Refugee and Migrant Forum has been successfully duplicated by the RSG in three other regions: Yorkshire and Humber, South East England and East of England as a part of our Roma Support & Engagement Programme (2011-13). It has also inspired our current Roma Refugee and Migrant Forum in East London (2013-15).
“I want the European Commission and everyone else to know that for us, Roma, the most important right is to be safe from violence, discrimination, bullying and fear. I want them to know about it because I feel that we, Roma, are excluded from this right.” – Young Roma Woman, 16 years old
- Roma Support Group Annual General Meeting, 2011
- Conference, ‘The Big Issue for Roma – Exclusion or Engagement?’ (February 2010): Young Roma Discussion Panel
- Visit to the Police Station, 2011. “After this trip, I would like to become a policewoman. That way I could make sure our rights are always defended.” – Roma girl, 10 years old