Enter the Traveller Education Service – a lifeline……
Caramia Rafferty explains why the Traveller Education Services are so important to her, her family and community and asks her local council and Welsh Government to keep the funding for the services across Wales
To whom this may concern,
My name is Caramia Rafferty. I’m a 15 year old English Romany Gypsy. I am writing to you to discuss the possible dismemberment of the travelling education services.
To be quite honest I was not shocked by this news, but I was disgusted. In this letter I aim to address the deep need for these incredible women and service from the perspective of a young Gypsy child such as myself that was aimed for them to help.
Many boys and girls apart of the travelling community have left school without any qualifications, also leaving with a poor standard of education along with it. But with this service and the people along with it who were there to understand our complex lives; many of us were able increase our standards of education and feel confident enough to enter higher education. All through my own life and others there was a traveller support system put in place for us. They understand our fluctuating attendance and lifestyle and helped us catch up with our missed schooling. They also explained our culture to teachers who may not have fully understood us. It is deeply concerning to be informed that this service will no longer be put in place, and I will continue to explain the negatives of having this service cut off.
One of the main problems facing our community is the thick barrier between the settled community and our own. Many people today still have a strong prejudice, ignorance and lack of understanding towards our culture. This service had people who were there to understand and represent us. It is clear that many of us are not that educated and aimed to be more educated. But the previous generation find themselves confused with trying to understand what exactly teachers are conversing about and vice versa with the teachers. Enter the traveller education service. They were able to break down these barriers between, with explaining and translating our lives to them. Without these women we will return back to isolation and miscommunication.
Now from looking from a perspective of my own and many other Traveller and Gypsy kids. These people working in this service are like a lifeline to us. One of the main things you may ask is why? Why aren’t we going to school? To be honest without these women I was never encouraged in school, I was never defended nor was I understood. My people have be discriminated against for hundreds of years and still racism is very popular today. The BBC has identified the travelling community as the most discriminated against people in the UK. Due to this many travellers and non-travellers have a barrier between each other. We are a tight knitted group of people, many Travellers and Gypsies share prejudice just as some black people may share against white people for the suffering they have endured. But we are not just to blame for us not having an education. Would you want be in a place where you’re not understood or cared for? I understand times are changing and are becoming more accepting, but still a thick fog of bad stigma, stereotypes and lack of knowledge and care shadows the travelling community.
Millions are spent on removing travellers from illegal sites instead of being put into our education. Do you think we would be living on illegal grounds if we were educated? If the government chose to invest money into us? Instead of being a labelled a ‘tramp’, ‘Gypo’, ‘pikey’ and ‘thief’ before you even know us and try to understand.
This is why we need this service. They were able to understand and help us with issues. I’ve experienced constant discrimination in and out of school, but while I was in school these women were able to help me. They fought for my justice even if it never actually came. My ethnicity is constantly misunderstood and misrepresented among people, but this service was able to be a part of a change we’re trying to drive forward. Without it we will be at square one. The barrier between our community and the settled will not be knocked down only strengthen once again.
In not only school but life we are expected to learn and respect everyone else’s race, traditions and backgrounds. How come when it comes to ours it’s pushed aside and isolated? It’s disgusting. No one should ever feel ashamed for the way that they are born. They shouldn’t have to hide just to be accepted, and this service and these woman were some of the few that fought for that.
Please consider my request to keep this service alive. Without it I am certain teachers wouldn’t cope, neither would our community. My brother is due to seek secondary education this year, however due to this news my mother is now too afraid to enrol him without the support. This obviously reflects how the rest of the community feels. They help with a lot more other than just keeping us in school, and sooner you understand the better.
Thank you for reading,
15 years old