Roma Community Care was established in 2013 as the only Roma led support organisation in Derby and Derbyshire providing advice and advocacy to Eastern European Roma communities.
Roma communities have the lowest outcomes of any ethnic group across a range of areas including education, health, employment, criminal justice and hate crime. It is also recognised that there are persistent failures by both national and local policy makers to tackle inequalities in a sustained way. Often help from RCC was required when beneficiaries were at crisis point and needing help to access appropriate support (such as health, housing, education and police services).
The project was developed to:
- Increase the influence of a small Roma led organisation in Derby by increasing the staff skills base in advocacy and advice.
- Support and help address issues of acute and chronic need for Roma in the city.
- Sustain a grassroots Roma led voice within the Roma community to help organise and represent Roma rights locally working better with the Local Authority as well as sharing this good practice nationally.
- Drop-in sessions for clients held every weekday. Housing advice, employment support, debt advice and translation support.
- Community engagement outside of the drop-ins. Supported clients attending meetings and providing support in meetings, such as with social care.
- Awareness raising of Roma with non-Roma through training, events, and community networks. Where possible tried to link with regional and national groups working to support Roma.
- Home visits, online and telephone service in response to Covid pandemic and subsequent lockdown.
Activities and numbers benefiting from the work:
- Supported c1400 clients through the drop-in sessions. 84% of clients state that the service that they received was excellent. 15% of clients state that the service was good and only 3% feel like the service could be improved.
- Eighteen Hate Crime Awareness raising sessions with delivered with the police for Roma people.
- Five hundred people engaged through International Roma Day celebration in April 2019.
- Raised awareness about the importance of education for Roma young people whom data has shown to be disproportionately failing at GCSE level and disproportionately excluded.
- Worked with organisations such as DANCOP at the University of Derby, Derby College and Think for the Future to raise awareness regarding the importance and routes to accessing education.
- Coordinated health promotion workshops with Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.
- Worked with Derby College to deliver TESOL language skills to clients.
- RCC established an advocacy organisation and achieved a good level of community engagement with Roma community.
- Roma people gained the skills to become more independent citizens in UK (not reliant on advocacy and support organisations like Roma Community Care). We witnessed a reduction in ‘chronic’ cases. Those individuals/ families that were coming to RCC intensively (3-4 times a week) for support.
- We improved awareness and understanding of the needs of Roma communities in the city of Derby, key agencies, and local authorities.
- Created greater inclusion especially of Roma and fostered more cohesion between Roma and with other communities.
- Raised awareness about all hate crime which links with the second item above as many Roma simply do not know their rights. Regarding hate crime, they do not know what it is, racism has become normalised, and they do not report it.
- RCC contributed to the Women and Equality Select Committee investigation into Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller communities. RCC and examples from Derby were referenced in their report that was published in April 2019.
Flowing from the changed environment resulting from the Covid pandemic project management was transferred to the St James Centre in January 2021.
The advantages of this new approach with St James Centre include:
- The further development of a first-class comprehensive Advice Service that enable Roma people to move forward with their lives.
- A more sustainable and resilient service for the Roma Community supported by the infrastructure and support of a larger charity.
- Expertise and track-record staff who are qualified and experienced in Community Development that will enable Roma people make a distinctive contribution to the city.
The Roma Community benefits from:
- An established Bi-lingual Advice Service
- Access to more comprehensive advice via Derby Advice Alliance, a partnership of key advice organisations working together to produce an inclusive and comprehensive Advice Network for the city
- Access to a broader range of services, advice and support.
MFC is proud of the work of RCC in supporting vulnerable Roma communities whilst raising awareness of their needs with local authorities and key agencies.
We are grateful for the generous support and guidance of the project funders and look forward to the projects next stage of development under the care of the St James Centre.
MFC remains committed to the success of the project having established a close and supportive working relationship with the St James Centre and will continue to offer support and practical help to ensure the project's continued success.
This project was supported by The Tudor Trust, the Badur Foundation and Derby City Council.