Dudley CVS was contacted by local authority workers at Lye Community Project to see if we could support newcomers to the area from the Roma community who were facing barriers. The Roma community faced discrimination from different communities in the Lye area.
Dudley CVS met with members of the Roma community who wanted to set up a mutual support group. The biggest challenge was language barriers.
Together with the help of the vicar of Christ Church, Lye, who could speak a little Romanian and with the help of Google Translate, Dudley CVS supported the community to set up a group and to understand how community groups work in the UK. We developed a dual language constitution so that group members and local partners could both understand what the group was about.
The group later found Romanian volunteers, who could overcome the language barriers and offer some support. We worked further with those and other volunteers and:
- Gave training on committee roles and responsibilities
- Helped the group plan its activities
- Supported with small funding bids.
Our development officer also linked the group with a team member leading on the Active Citizens initiative, which helped Reaching for Change to build relationships with others. Reaching for Change really embraced an approach that involved trying things out before deciding what worked.
Through Active Citizens, Reaching for Change ran a joint trial with Diyya, which encouraged different communities to learn about each others’ languages, culture and traditions.
Finally, we contacted Time Bank, which runs an initiative called Talking Together. Talking Together at the time helped Muslim communities to offer basic English courses for members with little or no spoken English. Together with Time Bank, we made the case to Time Bank’s funders that the Roma community in Lye also faced significant linguistic barriers. Time Bank’s funders recognized this and allowed Talking Together to support the Roma community for the first time. We brought Time Bank staff together with volunteers from Reaching for Change to plan basic English courses.
Reaching for Change has been able to organize and run activities for both the Roma community and the wider communities in Lye as a result of the support.
Volunteers offer a drop in at Lye Community Project so that the Roma community can get help with basic things such as school enrolment and health care.
The joint activities run with Diyya through the Active Citizens initiative has helped two communities to break down barriers. People from both communities now recognise each other in the street and can say hello to each other. The activities have helped to reduce distrust and fear.
Reaching for Change is now able to run basic English classes to help those from the Roma community to access further support.