Patrin – launch of gypsy heritage project

Tuesday 8th April, 6.30pm – 8.30pm, Committee Room 18, House of Commons

Tickets are free but you must book HERE

Over the past 2 years the Monitoring Group, the Derby and Lincolnshire Gypsy Liaison groups have been working to document the lives of the Gypsy community across the East Midlands. The project funded by Lottery Heritage Fund has led to the creation of exciting community resources, including an exhibition, a website and a book.

Heritage is a powerful tool. It is something that gives a sense of place and identity and helps to inform us about who we are and how a region has developed over time.  Britain’s 300,000 Gypsies, Roma and Travellers have lived, worked and travelled throughout Britain for over 500 years, yet they have been almost entirely written out of British history. If you go to most museums, libraries and schools and nothing about their history and culture is kept or taught.

The result is a widespread ignorance about who they are, which sometimes turns to hatred, fear and misunderstanding. In schools, children learn more about the Romans, Vikings or even fairies than they do their local Gypsy community. The East Midlands is home to some of largest Gypsy groups in the country, and these groups have played an important role in the history of the Gypsy community as a whole. Recent television program such ‘Big Fat Gypsy Weddings’ have simply reinforced stereotypes rather than help increase people’s knowledge. The Patrin project aims to provide a voice to the Gypsy people so that they can record their heritage, and challenge the perceptions of the settled community. Perceptions, which have been largely surrounded by myths, stereotypes and prejudice.

As modern Britain evaluates consumerism, environmentalism, assimilation, family values and identity. There is much in the heritage of the Gypsy community that will be of value to the wider community. The book has been written and edited by Ryalla Duffy, Queenie Duffy, Verity Duffy, Eliza Smith (from the Lincolnshire Gypsy Liaison Group), Siobhan Spencer, Tom McCready (from the Derbyshire Gypsy Liaison Group) and Jagdish Patel (from the Monitoring Group).

Alongside them other speakers will include Suresh Grover from the Monitoring Group, and members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Gypsy Roma Travellers.

The event is hosted by the People’s Parliament and marks International Roma Day.

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