Gateshead Roma Kavárna Project March Report
It has been another very busy month. There have again been a lot of families with issues around Universal Credit. We have also been helping families to get reductions in their Council Tax, which can take up to one and a half hours each time.
There have also been a lot of debt problems to help people with. These problems have included debt while paying for electricity, gas, council tax, water e.t.c. Getting families onto direct debits would not help as they fund their paying going up and down so much.
Families have also been taking things from organisations like Bridge House, without understanding the amount they have to pay back. We have been helping families to apply for bridging loans, which are interest free.
Housing issues have again been prominent in our work. Many families are living in bad conditions, with landlords who show a distinct lack of interest. We have tried to contact Environmental Health in at least one instance, as the landlord didn't want to do anything.
The schools situation is alright at present. Fortunately enrollment is very straightforward in Gateshead. There are a lot of families who are not registered with dentists. This is a carry over from their lives in the Czech Republic or Slovakia, where Roma are often treated brutally, without anaesthetic. They also don't know that low-paid families can receive free dental treatment in this country.
Many families also are not aware that they can receive personal Independent Payments (PIPs).
We have applied for food from a local foodbank and they are going to giving food every Thursday, for people who come to the Drop-in.
Two families have been going through bankruptcies. The problems began with small things and then got out of hand.
We have received great support from Gateshead Citizens Advice Bureau, who have sent advice workers to the Drop-in. We have also had a member of Gateshead EMTAS attend one session to discuss ways of helping to get Roma children into school and have also discussed ways of working with Acorn to help Roma with housing issues.
Peter Sagar, A Living Tradition CIC Company Secretary and Irma Karchnakova, Translator April 2018