TRAIN has been working to support Traveller and Romani families who are experiencing child protection involvement since 2015. It was set up to respond to urgent need and because no other specific support for Traveller and Romani children and families in child protection existed in the UK.
Since 2015, TRAIN has been providing free telephone advice and support to parents whose children are in need, at risk, or are in the care system, and with members of the wider family or community who are raising children unable to remain at home. TRAINs main aim has been working on capacity building to help Traveller and Romani communities to help themselves. TRAIN has always been managed by two volunteer social workers and each year the work that TRAIN has been involved in has grown. In 2017, for example, TRAIN provided help and support to 61 families. TRAIN enabled people's voices to be heard, and it has enabled the situation of child protection to reconsidered and to be taken seriously. Whilst advocating for one family a Judge made it clear that without TRAINs involvement the outcome of Care Proceedings would have been quite different.
Today a growing number of organisations are beginning to see and exploit the need to provide help and support to families in matters related to child protection. There is now money available to organisations so that they can fund advocates, online media tools, training videos and information services and all of the other things that TRAIN has been providing. What TRAIN has done for the last 3 years on a free and voluntary basis, other well meaning organisations are now receiving payment to do as well. For this reason, the work that TRAIN has been championing has come to a natural end.
The fact that more organisations are working to support Traveller and Romani families who are experiencing child protection services is fantastic. As many of these organisations are also grassroots Traveller and Romani Community groups, TRAIN's aim to work on capacity building to help Traveller and Romani communities to help themselves has seemingly been achieved, not through consultation though, but by example, innovation and leadership.
TRAIN hopes that those people who found the strength to ask for help in the past will enable others in the future to speak out about the situation that they are in and to seek support early and without delay. It hopes that other well meaning funded services are able to understand and cope with the complexity of child protection policy, and it hopes that the new organisations taking over TRAIN's role are sufficiently knowledgeable and skilled to spot and challenge procedural irregularity and to fight for natural justice, without compromise, in a way that Traveller and Romani families urgently require and deserve.
Most importantly TRAIN hopes that the unique challenges faced by Traveller and Romani families in Child Protection will not be dismissed, minimised or denied. If the significant discrimination that Traveller and Romani face in child protection is not taken seriously, all of the work that TRAIN has tried to achieve and all of the lobbying work it has done will be undone.
Traveller and Romani Advice and Information Network
Allen, D., and Riding, R. (2018) The Fragility of Professional Competence: A Preliminary Account of Child Protection Practice with Romani and Traveller Children in England. ERRC: Budapest
Allen, D., and Adams, P. (2013) Social work with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Children. London: British Association of Adoption and Fostering.
Allen, D (2017) ‘Is Discrimination Natural: Social Work with Roma children and Families', in: Bhatti-Sinclair, K & Smeathurst, C (eds.), Diversity, Difference and Dilemmas. Policy Press, Bristol, UK.
Allen, D (2016) ‘Its in their Culture’: Working with automatic prejudice towards Gypsies, Roma and Travellers in Care Proceedings’ Seen and Heard, 26(2) pp 40 - 52.
Allen, D & Cemlyn, S (2016) ‘Outreach: Care experiences amongst Gypsy/Traveller families', in: Williams, C & Graham, M (eds.), Social work in a diverse society: Transformative practice with black and ethnic minority individuals and communities, Policy Press, Bristol, UK.
Greenfields, M., and Allen, D. (eds) (2015) The well-being of Gypsy, Traveller and Roma Children and Families - investing in the future by supporting families experiencing migration, exclusion, racism and stress, Todays Children Tomorrows Parents 40 & 41(1).
Allen, D. (2015) Protecting the cultural identity of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children living in the public care system. In Greenfields, M., and Allen, D. ed. Todays Children Tomorrows Parents 41(1), pp 122- 139.