A Living Tradition Gateshead Roma Kavárna Project Report May 2018

It has been another busy month for the Gatesehad Roma Kavárna Project. Again we have seen a large number of people attending the Thursday morning sessions and we have also had visitors from afar.

Again we have seen issues around personal debt and people not being able to access the benefits they should be able to.   Housing is still a major concern for many Roma in Gateshead, as is exploitation at work.  Some have been struggling to pay bills and needing advice about how to pay by Direct Debit.  This is has lead to further concerns about the need for people to get help with budgeting.

We have begin mapping where our clients come from.  Most come from Gateshead, especially many with NE8 postcodes.  However, its also notable that about a quarter of our clients come from steets with NE4 postcodes in Benwell, Newcastle. That is a great testimony to the hard work being put in by our interpreters, who know their community so well.

On 24th May, we had the pleasure of a visit from Angela Greenwood of Sheffield Council, along with Paddy, who is a community worker with Roma in the Page Hall area of Sheffield.  They were impressed by the layout of the drop-in, with a room for serious advice and help work and another room, where people can sit and chat, relax with a coffee and collect the free food we have available from a local foodbank.

We were also told about the work Angela and Paddy do in Sheffield, including a network for advice.  We have responded by developing a welcome pack for clients, which we hope to have available very soon.  

One major concern about the immediate future, which was highlighted by our vistors, was the approaching Brexit deadline. There are gaps in full understanding of how Brexit will work for families.  There are fears that many Roma families from Czech Republic and Slovakia, already struggling financially, partly because of misunderstandings due to the language and cultural barriers, will be exploited by solicitors, who may charge them £600 or more regarding Right to Reside documentation, money they should not need to pay out.

It was mentioned at the Gateshead Council Diversity Forum on 6th June, that clients of the Kavárna have been secured a total of £26 000 in extra financial help, since February.

We hope to be able to put on some extra sessions during the summer holidays, helping to provide children with fun, creative activities, as well as helping them to get a good meal. As well as continuing to get food from a local foodbank we will start to get extra food for clients from Greggs, during the week beginning 11th June.

Our thanks again for the great support from Gateshead Citizens Advice Bureau and our other supporters.

Peter Sagar, Company Secretary, A Living Tradition CIC,  and Irma Karchnakova, Translator  
June 2018

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