We have expertise in the following specialist areas:
Roma socio-cultural and historical awareness
- Understanding of how Roma history and various forms of anti-Roma discrimination in their respective countries of origins have affected their integration with the mainstream society;
- Awareness of cultural/ linguistic traits of Roma from different Eastern European countries (Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Romania, former Yugoslavia and countries of the former Soviet Union) and cultural/ tribal diversities within each of these groups, which determine their social inclusion and cultural identity;
- Knowledge of how tribal/ clan/ family structure and dynamics effects on working with Roma families;
- Knowledge and awareness of cultural taboos (e.g. mental health, domestic violence, substance misuse, etc.), which directly impact on Roma children’s academic performance, health and well-being;
- Knowledge of traditional Roma education methods (still practiced in most Roma families) and how they can be compatible with British mainstream education;
- Knowledge and awareness of leadership mechanisms in various Roma communities, as well as practical experience of implementing community engagement and empowerment mechanisms. This experience informs our model of community engagement which is now disseminated through our training, expert advice, capacity building activities and publications.
Knowledge of barriers, needs and aspirations of Roma children, elder people and their families
- Understanding the main causes behind poverty and social exclusion of Roma families (including Roma elder people) in the UK and disseminating methods of addressing these issues based on our best models of practice;
- Knowledge and understanding of what are the main causes of high mobility of Roma families and working expertise in ensuring a safer and more stable environment (e.g. facilitating access to safe and more secure housing, employability, health services and education through mobilising and co-ordinating networks of professional support);
- Understanding the main health inequalities within Roma communities and working experience in addressing these issues through projects that are run and managed in close partnership with Roma community members;
- Knowledge and understanding of how immigration, welfare and employment issues determine Roma children’s access to education, academic performance and aspirations;
- Knowledge and understanding of the main barriers to access and achieve in mainstream education (e.g. socio- historical conditions; poverty; bullying, etc.) and disseminating/ implementing working models to tackle these issues;
- Trust established within the Roma community that was gained through our knowledge, expertise and cultural sensitivity of our services, which enables us to successfully engage with them;
- Knowledge of Roma culture, history, heritage and developing the best ways of integrating this knowledge in the mainstream school curriculum, community cohesion, mainstream British art and culture programmes, etc.
- Bi-lingual staff and volunteers reflect a linguistic map of our Roma beneficiaries, sharing in-house eleven community languages (including five distinctive dialects of Romanes).
Roma Support Group’s Publications and Research
The RSG has written and published and contributed to a number of educational publications, research reports, specialist articles. See the Our Publications and Our Research pages for a list of these and further information.
We have also researched and prepared materials for two exhibitions:
- A Decade of Roma Migration, Roma Support Group and London College of Fashion, GRT History Month, 2008, and
- Belonging: Voices of London’s Refugees, in collaboration with the London Metropolitan University, Museum of London and the Evelyn Oldfield Unit, 2006-07.
The RSG has also contributed to research carried out by external agencies. Examples include:
- Supporting the Voice of the Roma Community in Newham: Improving Health Services for Migrant Community: a Commissioning Approach, Shahan Islam and Gema Newby, Mind in Tower Hamlets and Newham, March 2015.
- Pacesetters Programme Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Core Strand, Evaluation Report for the Department of Health – Van Cleemput, P. Bissell, P. Harris, J.,Public Health Section ScHARR, The University of Sheffield, April 2010.
- Health and Social Care Needs Assessment of Eastern European (including Roma) individuals living in Barking and Dagenham, University of East London, 2010.
The RSG delivers expert advice and training for professionals and Roma Culture Workshops. Members of the RSG’s team are frequently asked to contribute to conferences, seminars and events.