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Manchester University and council launch project to tackle “persistent prejudice” towards Roma families (20 May 2015)

Date: 20/05/2015
Duncan Lewis, Child Care Solicitors, Manchester University and council launch project to tackle “persistent prejudice” towards Roma families

Manchester Town Hall and the University of Manchester are collaborating on a project to tackle discrimination towards the Roma community among social services and schools.

Manchester Evening News reports that Professor Yaron Matras from the University of Manchester has warned that the “persisting prejudice” against Roma families needs to be tackled in Manchester – including discrimination by schools, health workers and social services in the city.

The university and Manchester council will launch the new project with the aim of giving the Roma community in Manchester “a voice” – and help them access services.

It is also hoped that the project will help tackle negative public perceptions of the Roma community.

Prof Matras is one of the project’s co-ordinators and said:

“There are big issues of segregation and prejudice within schools. This is also a problem in health and social care, where Roma families are often accused of neglecting their children.

“However, there are very few cases where there has been a serious case of neglect – yet there are cases of Romani children being wrongly taken into emergency foster care.

“This is an issue that really needs to be tackled,” said Prof Matras.

“Unlike other immigrant and ethnic minority communities, the Roma have so far lacked community representation.

“The main aim of our outreach work is to release Roma from being dependent on others and to encourage self-reliance,” he added.

The project involving the Big Life Group and Manchester University’s Romani Project is funded by the European Commission and is supported by the European Roma and Travellers Forum – an organisation that represents the Roma at the Council of Europe.

A founder of the European Roma and Travellers Forum, Ramona Constantin, said:

“We have many young people in our community who are talented and motivated – one of our goals is to help them identify opportunities to develop their skills.”

Labour MEP Afzal Khan added:

“The Roma are Europe’s largest minority – they continue to suffer exclusion and discrimination.

“The community group is an excellent initiative – it will help make Manchester a model for the integration and participation of Roma in the European Union.”

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