Tackling inequality, language barriers and confusion over differing cultures are some of the aims of a project run for, and by, Roma people in Margate.
Roma in the Lead is headed by Red Zebra – a charity which aims to bring people together – and co-ordinated with the help of members of the Roma community.
The project, which also runs in Folkestone and Dover, aims to break down barriers so Roma people can get more involved with the communities around them and break down prejudice and misunderstanding.
In Margate there are some 3,000 Roma people who have left their countries, such as Slovakia, in a search for better chances to get work and education.
But they still often find barriers due to language and culture differences.
The Roma in the Lead project at Cliftonville Community Centre is working to break these down and help Roma people get involved in Margate life.
Project co-ordinator Lydia Martin said: “In each of our locations there is someone employed from the Roma community to run activities responding to the needs of the community or between communities. The aim is to support the Roma to be included, to achieve and to contribute.”
Monika Duzvova organises activities in Margate, including family time sessions, dancing, youth sessions and craft activities.
Last month women in the group knitted hat and boot sets and dolls for little ones at Margate’s QEQM Hospital.
It is a scheme they want to continue this year.
Monika said: “The knitting came from family time. They made te dols for children and then came up with the idea to do something for newborns at the hospital. I’m very proud of them.
“We are looking at doing more for charity or maybe selling to use towards family activities.”
The work at the community centre also includes helping with forms and communication with Thanet council and government departments and schools and holding English classes.
Monika said: “There are difficulties with language and culture barriers. I think it is very important to involve people of all different nationalities.
“We have a good team at Hartsdown Academy that helps with translating. From this month we are working with Cliftonville primary school on a family connect project supporting parents so they can support their children in education and communicate with the school.”
Education and work are the key attractions for Roma people coming to the UK.
Monika said: “Roma people grow up in different conditions. There is discrimination in education and jobs. I find that very sad. Many people come here for the opportunity of a better life, of getting a job and education for their children. The Roma in Margate are very thankful to the UK for offering these opportunities.
“Many are worried about Brexit as they are EU citizens and they find the bureaucracy unnerving but Roma in the Lead is helping them understand the processes, making sure they are informed and supporting them with the applications.”
Roma in the Lead is funded for three years by the Big Lottery. It is in its second year of the grant and is hoping to be able to secure further funding.
This is a heartening article. There is too much prejudice against immigrant communities despite efforts like this to integrate into UK life. After the last (hopefully the very last!) World War, I went to a small, rural infants school where I shared classes with the children of German, Polish and Spanish refugees. Their fathers worked at a clay pit and brickworks or on the railway. That was 60 years ago, in the good old days that so many anti-immigrant whingers keep saying they want to go back to. Now, the children and grandchildren of those refugees are still with us making as valid a contribution to UK life as anybody else. I wish the Roma people well in their efforts to contribute to local life without, I hope, losing their own culture in the process.
R u kidding me I lived in margate all my life it WAS beautiful and safe and I’m from 3 generations of family born and bred in margate. They are NOt welcome they are pregnant at 50 for a green card on benefits, rude and you wana watch worse prisons on Netflix then tell me I’m a lier luckily I have moved over 300 miles away. No wonder more than half of thanet voted to leave eu
Thank you so much for your kind words. In many cases prejudice affect people, or fear and rejection of everything what is different. Just enough to start to talking, to say “Hello” and at that moment you can to see that people, from anywhere, have same worries and joy. We started to work from last March in the Roma in the Lead project. We try to show good will and positive side through various activities and help wherever we can. We also strive to create good neighborly relations and coexistence with other English people and with people from different countries. Beside everything, we keep our own culture, traditions and language.
I am very sorry, if you’ve had a bad experience with people from other countries. Everywhere in the world people are good, decent but also problematic. We try to live with others in peace and understanding. And what about the Leave EU, Let me say, that most EU citizens work and tax like all other workers, and if they are entitled to benefits, they are legally entitled to do so.
Anna. What, all of ‘them’? These women certainly don’t fit your description. When you tar everyone with the same brush bars on their ethnicity or country of origin, there’s a word for that . . .