(Post-)Pandemic Life Together

(Post-)Pandemic Life Together

This spring arrived accompanied by many challenges for our work. Instead of shrinking back, we battened down the hatches and continued supporting people with fewer opportunities.

During March, one of our localities became an epicentre of a special mutation of the corona virus. Many families, Roma and non-Roma, found themselves in the middle of danger of contagion. Together with other local NGOs and volunteers we distributed FFP2 respirators and masks and discussed the situation with adults and children.

Keeping the seriousness of the pandemic situation in mind, we tried hard to preserve the quality and quantity of our services and activities that we offer to local people in need. Instead of cancelling our events and appointments, we equipped our teams with protective aid or searched for alternative ways of helping the community. The arrival of spring allowed us to hold workshops outdoors, other activities took place one-to-one.

Every ten years, a Census is carried out in the Czech Republic to obtain information about the population that is not easily accessible. This May, another nation-wide census took place. As the attendance is obligatory under penalty of a fine, our street workers helped 131 households to fulfill this legal duty.

While maintaining the quality of our street work, counselling and other social services, we are also mindful of human rights aspect of our work. This spring became a milestone for women who suffered – and still suffer – from forced sterilisation. At the beginning of May, after many years of struggle, the Chamber of Deputies passed a bill on compensation for the female victims.

Since Czech schools implemented distance learning, children needed extra support to cope with online lessons. We restored our „outdoor school“ and offered assistance with homework or learning on-spot. For families that were not endowed with digital devices, we arranged computers and laptops as a gift in cooperation with the Česko.digital initiative.

To celebrate the International children’s day, all teams prepared special activities for the children and young people they work with. Almost hundred children from Liscina, a neighbourhood once flooded, gathered for fun outdoor activities and received sweet rewards. Other events related to the International children’s day and the end of the school year will take place all over the localities we work in. Preparations for our traditional summer camp are already under way as well.

Project Market “New solutions to old problems”

Project Market – “New solutions to old problems – exchange of new type of approaches in the field of Roma integration”

On 21-22 April 2021 the partners in the project “New solutions to old problems – exchange of new type of approaches in the field of Roma integration” gathered online for the “Project Market”, where they shared their best practices of Roma inclusion and empowerment projects and “bid” on each other’s projects to implement similar initiatives in their own communities.

The event showed the great wealth of experience of Roma civil society and the impact that bottom-up approaches to Roma inclusion, empowerment and fighting antigypsyism can have.

For the event, all partners had to identify up to 3 local good practices from their own or their partners’ work on Roma inclusion and empowerment. These good practices were presented in the ‘Project Market’ to other consortium partners so everyone could select someone else’s good practice that fits to their own community needs.

Projects that were ”won” at the ”auction” will need to be adapted to different contexts, planned in detail with the community and will then be kicked off. The ‘project owner’ who proposed this project will act as a coach during the entire period. The good practices will include for example supporting companies to recruit Roma employees, a mothers’ center, a volunteering program with elderly homes and a motivational re-training project for unemployed Roma. All partners are rooted in local Roma communities so they can easily reach out to and involve their target group.

The meetings also gathered guests from numerous International Organisations, embassies and and partner civil society organisations, among them the EEA and Norway Grants, EU Justice and Consumers, the Embassy of Norway, Tom Lantos Institute, ERSTE Foundation, Zentralrat Deutscher Sinti und Roma, Hildegard Lagrenne Stiftung.

“New solutions to old problems – exchange of new type of approaches in the field of Roma integration” is funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Regional Cooperation.

Antigypsyism and statelessness in DENK election manifesto

Antigypsyism and statelessness in DENK election manifesto

As a follow-up of the political recognition of antigypsyism in the Netherlands, the same political party who addressed this in October 2020 – DENK -, included antigypsyism and statelessness among Roma in their election manifesto 2021-2025.

After the elections took place in March 2021, DENK MP Stephan van Baarle addressed several questions on this matter. In the Netherlands, some Romani people who have been living here legally for over more than 40 years with residence permits are still being sent away when applying for Dutch citizenship.

This is in contravention with European and international law since covenants on preventing and eliminating statelessness have been ratified by the Dutch government. Even tough much has been done already by Roma NGOs and their political supporters and activists in addressing the issue of statelessness, things are moving (too) slow. Numerous children are at risk of becoming stateless or are confronted with “unknown nationality”.  This is a major obstacle in their daily lives and affects their education and their future.  Statelessness is one manifestation of antigypsyism, which impacts heavily on the position of Roma in society. It is vital to combine powers and to see that proper written solutions shall be put into practice, as everyone has a right to a nationality. Although people who are stateless do not have voting rights, thanks to the cooperation between DENK and Roma Utrecht Netherlands we managed to address this in the Dutch Parliament. Roma Utrecht Netherlands remains in close contact with the DENK party.

News from Pavee Point, Ireland

News from Pavee Point, Ireland

Pavee Point Traveller & Roma Centre focused our work in recent months on helping to ensure Traveller & Roma uptake of the COVID19 vaccines. We lobbied and advocated for vaccine priority for Travellers and Roma and published a briefing paper, Approach and Recommendations for COVID-19: Vaccination Prioritisation & Roll Out for Travellers and Roma.  Subsequently the Health Department recommended vaccine prioritisation for Travellers & Roma aged 18+ for the COVID-19 vaccination. To coincide with the vaccine roll-out Pavee Point released a series of videos to combat vaccine hesitancy – Travellers Take the Vaccine Campaign.  All videos can be found here.

 

In April we celebrated 50 Years of Activism (1971 – 2021) on International Roma Day .We hosted a webinar to commemorate 50 years of activism since the first World Romani Congress on the 8th of April in London in 1971. To mark the milestone, Pavee Point’s Co Director Martin Collins talked to Roma MEP, Romeo Franz and to Irish Traveller Senator Eileen Flynn about who and what inspired their activism. The video also includes a photographic look back over 50 years, Traveller and Roma music, and we heard from young Roma and Travellers on their hopes for the future. You can watch it here. 

In May 2021, Pavee Point was thrilled to be awarded funding by Rethink Ireland Equality Fund to support work in promoting Traveller education. These funds will enable us to raise issues of education discrimination – made worse by COVID-19 – and the need for a National Traveller Education Strategy. You can see a short video on our planned education programme here.

PECAO Check-in meeting

PECAO Check-in meeting to evaluate project progress and plan ahead!

Almost one year has passed since ERGO Network and its partners have started the implementation of the PECAO project that addresses antigypsyist online hate speech. It has been quite a journey for our project partners within PECAO, as the project itself is being implemented during a global pandemic.

Nevertheless, our partners are extremely dedicated to encouraging positive values within Roma and non-Roma communities, as well as addressing the persisting issue of hate speech and antigypsyism. They have proven themselves motivated and reliable with the responsibilities handed to them. Our network is truly supported by grassroots efforts and we are immensely proud of this.

On 25 and 26 February 2021, the PECAO partners came together to evaluate a year of building our experience and expertise in tackling hate speech online, but also to look into the on-going implementation of the project, to check progress and plan the next steps ahead. We focused on the road so far, looking into what has been smooth and well done; where we were encountering bumps and the moments that we felt lost and were challenged by the given circumstances.

The check-in meeting was important and integral, as we still have a year ahead of us to make a change through our work and project in the online space.

The partners highlighted that the monitoring and peer education are going well, but it was challenging in the beginning to find the correct way to do it, especially face to face meetings, hence most of the activities shifted to be organized online and needed to take everyone’s safety into account.

During the meeting, we also received insights into the work packages led by our partners Integro, Nevo Parudimos and FAGiC. We listened to their reflections on the implementation so far and received heads up for the next period, as we are looking into following up on the conclusions of the stakeholder roundtables organized in their countries as well as continue to work on the monitoring exercise of collecting and reporting antigypsyist online hate speech.

On the meeting, our project officer from DG JUST Helene Lesay was also present and praised the commitment of our team despite the challenges faced.

The meeting concluded with looking into the next steps and milestones, one of them being the EU stakeholder roundtable organized for the 26 April 2021 by ERGO Network called “Online Antigypsyism: A new challenge for Roma inclusion?” where relevant stakeholders such as the European Commission, Google.org, European civil society organisations and other Brussels-level stakeholders, as well as EU policy-makers from across the institutional spectrum are invited to discuss.