NB: This post was written before the plague, but we wanted to mark it here anyway.
It was the 25 Anniversary of FFT, a charity we have been doing some great initial work with (look out for a film featuring us in June for Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month as well as a collaboration with them over some mental health provision in the future), and they wanted to celebrate this by hosting an award ceremony to highlight the state of Traveller activism today. There were awards for various topics from Sports to culture to the coveted “Lifetime Achievement” award. Traveller Pride was nominated in the “Inspirational Project” category which meant I had to put on my suit… (there are some photos on the FFT Instagram from before I spilled food down the front)
It was a fab night. I was speaking to some Traveller activist friends and it was such a relief to meet them at something that was nice! It wasn’t another meeting about hate crime, or how education is failing us, or how the Govt wants to clamp down further on stopping, or about another dreadful documentary (please, documentary film-makers, stop contacting me if you want to make something about how kooky and mad gypsies are. I’m really dull and spend most of my time eating biscuits which is probably bad TV). We were meeting up to have fun, celebrate our achievements and help FFT get rid of gallons of prosecco they had laying around.
We heard great things. Young people raising money for charities, working within their community to make a difference, Travellers excelling within sports, spearheading culture and fighting for more recognition and rights.
We were up against incredible competition. In particular “One Call Away”, a sibling team of Romanies who run a Samaritans-like phoneline for gypsies and travellers. They dedicate so much time to staffing that line and then publically advocating for travellers to being more open about mental health problems. So it came as an enormous surprise when
WE WON IT!
I delivered a speech, not the one I had written because that would’ve been too easy.
There was a big announcement I forgot to mention in my speech so instead that will be blog post #2 (eyes peeled, kids).
We’re so thankful to have been recognised. It was a lovely evening and to know that people appreciate what we are trying to do is huge. Truthfully, this was quite a scary thing to do to begin with and there was always the fear we’d be rejected by the traveller community (a bit like coming our again, really) but the response has been ace.
(Our award as well as a copy of "The Plague", a book about a town in quarantine that is suddenly very engaging...)