Reflections from René Cassin
René Cassin, who received a Together in Service grant, have sent us some thoughts on their project, using faith communities to help combat discrimination against Gypsy, Roma and Traveler communities.
The project brought together faith leaders from varying backgrounds to rally around a single issue. Faith leaders used their influence to make a tangible impact on a prejudicial and discriminatory rhetoric aimed at the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) communities. Through the trainings, contacts were made between different faith leaders, and many of those faith leaders realised the potential they have as amplifiers of social justice messages. We will continue to use the training and the network of faith leaders who have signed up to our ‘Interfaith Challenge to Racism’ to create a network of concerned activists who can harness their position in communities to affect change.
To date, we have run two successful training events, training 50 faith leaders and academics on the issues. Further, we have presented at an international conference on this project, received media press for the Together in Service award we were presented last year, and will be going on to run more trainings due to demand throughout 2015.
We know that through the contacts made at the training, further events on the issue were carried out in other communities and there is an increase in interest in the wider topic of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller discrimination. This can be illustrated by the Jewish Board of Deputies directly referring to Roma discrimination in its Manifesto for the 2015 General Election.
The programme was successful and represents a good model for René Cassin on how to engage groups beyond our direct constituency. We have made contacts that we couldn’t have made otherwise and we look forward to continuing and developing the project going forward.