School project to break down myths about travellers in Lincolnshire
Children from travelling communities will use a £48,000 grant to capture their history and educate others.
The money will enable young people aged between 12 and 24 to make audio recordings of their elders’ memories and stories.
They will then visit schools to talk about their culture and try to break down myths about their communities.
Paul Boucher, a teacher at Lincolnshire Traveller Initiative (LIT), which is managing the scheme, believes popular TV shows have worsened prejudice against travellers.
“The traveller community is subject to a lot of discrimination and a lot of misunderstanding,” he said.
“Most children in schools we speak to have seen Big Fat Gypsy Weddings on TV and the traveller community were not happy with the way it portrayed them, so we have been addressing that.
“The project that the funding was for was to help children to record their families’ histories and stories for the future, because it has been eroded.”
Ten youngsters will learn the skills they need to make the recordings with the help of cash given by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The scheme will complement other LTI work, which provides education and skills for traveller children and equips them for future careers.
The charity is already working with pupils at several schools around the county.
These include including Bishop King Primary School in Lincoln and Morton Trentside Primary School, near Gainsborough.
David Lambert, of LIT partner cultural solutions UK, said travellers had “one of the UK’s most misunderstood cultures”.
“We are all really excited about the potential of the project,” he said.
“It offers Lincolnshire travellers and gypsies a way to ensure their voice is heard by mainstream society and to conserve their memories and dialect for generations to come.”
According to Mr Boucher, just ten to 15 per cent of travellers will go to secondary school.
The charity therefore offers alternative learning services to boost their skills.
The latest sessions include arts, crafts and other activities that focus on facets of traveller culture.
In one class, children are shown a film about life from a traveller boy’s perspective and encouraged to discuss his feelings about prejudice and discrimination.
Other schools already involved in the scheme include Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School and Trent Valley Academy in Gainsborough, De Aston School in Market Rasen and King Edward VI Humanities College in Spilsby.
Travellers’ sites around the county have also been visited, including in Grantham, Gainsborough, Sleaford and Boston. Further visits have been planned.
An education pack will soon be available to more schools for their own lessons, along with resources like films, photographs, exhibitions and a website.
There are around 2,000 travellers in Lincolnshire and 300,000 in Britain.
LTI is supported by Lincolnshire County Council.