Info Tour Blog # 1
This month Jenni, Yamuna, Jake and Dan and an as yet unnamed Volvo Estate from the Traveller Solidarity Network are on a 25-leg speaking tour of the UK to raise awareness about Gypsy, Roma and Traveller issues including what happened at Dale Farm, with a view to making new links with activists and Travellers around the country.
Before the infotour began properly Dan gave a short talk at the AGM of the Kent UNISON Local Government Branch about his personal experience of what went on at Dale Farm. This went well and the union is sending us a donation and is considering affiliating to TSN through some of their individual branches.
Our first public meeting was in Canterbury on Friday night. Without having many people on the ground we weren’t expecting a big turnout but thankfully we attracted a capacity crowd. The 11 people that did turn up packed the room out to the extent that some of us were sitting on the floor. Those that came included Travellers and settled people working in supporting Gypsy and Traveller communities in the county and a few other interested locals. A Traveller activist involved with TSN gave an interesting talk about the situation facing Gypsies and Travellers in Kent. It was our first meeting so we picked up a few things to improve upon but we definitely made some good links.
Saturday was a long but productive day. We set off early doors after the classic beans and toast combination, as our meeting at the Oxford Radical Forum was at 12. After swinging by a site to pick up 2 former Dale Farm residents, Kathleen and Elby who were speaking, and a few minor SatNav related issues, we managed to arrive on time.
We were all pleased with the meeting. Elby and Pearl were fantastic as ever, lots of people were interested and we were really pleased that 2 other groups of Irish Travellers came to speak. One group came up from London with some local support workers and one group came from a site near Oxford, where they are facing some legal issues.
We were invited back to the Oxford site that afternoon where we met with some of the families, drank tea and discussed how we can offer them some support. We also have been invited to the London site; so we have passed on those contact details to TSN London.
Last night we were accompanied by the chart music of 1974 on our way to Brighton and spent the night in a trailer on the side of the road with a friend who we had met at Dale Farm, who has recently been evicted.
This morning we came to the Cowley Club early to experience the cheap vegan nut roast in aid of the autonomous homeless shelter, before our meeting in the evening. It was very tasty, we must admit and it set us up well for the evenings meeting. Jenni and Yamuna gave the presentation with a contribution from a New Traveller activist and the foundations hopefully appear to have been laid for a fledgling Brighton Traveller Solidarity group to emerge.