Earlier this year, Canon Jonathan Herbert from the ‘Churches Network for Gypsies, Travellers and Roma’ people, and I, convened a small group of leaders from benefices where we are aware that there are permanent traveller sites. We wanted to reflect on how we might respond to a General Synod resolution committing the Church, nationally and in dioceses, to take a positive stand in protecting the rights of these communities.
It was a helpful and informative meeting and we would like to take our conversation forward and offer some training to help us all in our engagement. However we were also very aware of the need to begin this work with sensitivity. We want to ensure we are engaging with the community, not simply talking about them. We want to engage in a way that is informed by the needs they, not we, have identified.
As a first step, I would like to ask for your help in identifying the communities in our Diocese, recognising that while there are some permanent sites, many are informal or unofficial. If you have such a community in your benefice I would be enormously grateful if you could drop me an email at ku.gr1695445206o.coi1695445206dsolg1695445206@yrub1695445206sekwe1695445206tb1695445206 with the details, alongside a note of any contact you may have – though in most cases I suspect these will be minimal.
I would hope then, later in the year, we might host a gathering to reflect further on our ministry to and with this important but often neglected community.