What is home?
 
My name is Kate Lawrence and I have spent most of my life looking for home.  I grew up all over the world as my father worked for the British Council so our ‘home’ changed every 5 years.  This made me feel rootless and also made me yearn for a stable unchanging home of my own.  I have now found a home that I have been in for 10 years in North Wales.  When Rosa invited me to take part in this project she suggested that I talk to the Roma community about their experience of living in Coventry.  I immediately thought of one word: HOME.  Talking to young Roma people about home, and what makes a home made me want to explore this idea further.  
 
As children we might have been asked to draw our home and these pictures tell stories about how children feel about their homes.  A home should surely feel safe, a place where we are protected.  

Passing it On

We asked young community members to explain what it means to be Gypsy.
“Wonderful. I mean being Gypsy is I don’t know I’m proud of it. It’s being confident in who you are and no matter your surroundings you keep your traditions and everything.”

And how it feels to be Gypsy in Coventry
“We’ve technically lived here our whole life so feel like we belong here now”
“We feel very comfortable because here in Coventry there’s so many different cultures, it’s a multi-cultural city and I think that’s why we feel comfortable and we’ve found our place here. And because of this there’s tolerance with one culture to another, there’s acceptance”

The Growing Project supported by People’s Health Trust

The Growing Project brings nature to the big city. In 2017 the Roma Project received funding from the People's Health Trust and the Roma families worked closely with the allotment owner and the city council to transform an abandoned space into a space where fruits and vegetables were cultivated. The families were bused from Coventry to the allotments.  Development, clearing and cultivating of the land and the families worked inter and intra-generationally to plant, maintain and ensure husbandry of the plants and foods they grow.

New beginnings

Laura has since completed school, gone on to get full-time work in the city, and has started a family of her own. She continues to support others in her community and shares her love for art and painting with her younger siblings. When asked what home means to her she replied "Home is where my FAMILY is. Home is the safest place where I can be, the place where I don't have any constraints 😌. Home is not just a place, home is about  feelings and the people I love ❤ ".

Dancing Bodies in Coventry - June 2020 Residency

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Vertical Dance- Kate Lawrence

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The History of the Gypsy Roma Traveller community is complex.  This video by the Open Society Foundation offers a concise history. Europe is home to 10-12 million Roma, yet many Europeans are unable to answer the basic question, “Who are the Roma?” The remarkable history of Gypsies, Roma, and Travellers in Europe, beginning over 1,000 years ago, tells a story of diversity, creativity, and survival.

The Roma originated in India

Several scholars debate the historical journey of the Roma community. Linguistic analysis suggests that the Roma are originally a Hindi people from northern India, and that "Rom" means human.  Many of the words and grammatical rules of the Romani language are virtually identical to those of the Hindi language. The international flag of the Romani people was agreed and approved by the representatives from the various Romani communities at the first World Romani Congress (WRC), held in Orpington in 1971 in the UK. The flag has a background of blue and green, representing the heavens and earth, respectively and in the centre it also contains a 16-spoke red chakra, or cartwheel, in the center. The latter element stands for the itinerant tradition of the Romani people and is also an homage to the flag of India, added to the flag by scholar Weer Rajendra Rishi.

The overall aim of The Roma Project (based in Coventry, UK) is to tackle the exploitation of the Roma community in Coventry and to advance their social inclusion within the city.

The Roma Project in Coventry was founded in 2010 in response to a need within the community. It has always been a project that is run by the community and has evolved to try to meet the changing and growing needs that have been identified within the community.

The current Board that steers the project includes members of the Roma Community. They have recognised the need to build capability and capacity within the organisation in order to move forward and make more impact on the issues facing the community. The project has a goal of forming a youth committee board. Youth engagement and supporting Roma Women and children is a priority of the Roma Project.

We have won several awards for our work with the Roma Community.

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