Parallel Lives Roma Project Awarded Additional Funding

The East of England Strategic Migration Partnership has been working with Fenland District Council, other authorities and partner agencies as part of the Parallel Lives Roma Project since October 2017.

The East of England Strategic Migration Partnership has been working with Fenland District Council, other authorities and partner agencies as part of the Parallel Lives Roma Project since October 2017.

The project was initially funded by the Department of Communities and Local Government’s Controlling Migration Fund up to the end of September this year. However, a recent allocation of additional funding will enable it to continue until March 2020, providing workshops on safeguarding Roma communities.

The project team, Sue Hay and Rachel Heathcock, have been working with agencies in the region’s main towns and cities with Eastern European Roma communities, such as Luton, Ipswich, Peterborough and Southend. Introductory cultural awareness workshops, facilitated by the national Roma Support Group, have given over 200 frontline staff from all parts of the public sector opportunities to learn more about the history and culture of Roma people.

The post-1989 transition in Eastern Europe created an underclass of over 5 million Roma who by every indicator - literacy, income, life span, infant mortality, diet, political representation, access to health care and legal aid, education, employment - have the lowest status of any ethnic group in Eastern Europe.

Given these life chances, it is perhaps not difficult to understand why Eastern European Roma people continue to seek better lives in the UK. Although official figures are not collected, we estimate that there has been a rise of around 30% in the East of England’s Roma population over the past three years.
The project’s workshops have been well-received, as illustrated by this feedback from a Police Detective Inspector, who said that he would now:

“Be more patient when dealing with Roma communities and other groups, taking time to build a rapport with them before expecting them to be comfortable with working with me”

In scoping the issues, developing and implementing the project, Rachel and Sue also identified some of the pressures on local services as a result of Roma migration, which this funding aims to tackle.

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