Newly-arrived Roma young people in Barnsley have long felt disadvantaged on many levels. Roma gypsy young people in particular have lacked access to services and are at risks of further marginalisation and discrimination. Their levels of self-confidence are often low and the isolation they feel from the local community leaves them with no real sense of belonging. In short, many Roma young people suffer low self-esteem and don’t feel part of the community.
In summer 2017 we were asked by Barnsley Council to help the local Roma community find its voice and feel part of Barnsley. Over the next year, with local Roma young people, we ran weekly sessions and workshops around self-esteem, teambuilding, online safety and visiting local safe spaces in Barnsley, aiming to help build self-confidence and connection to the town and its people. The group gained so much from our programme that they volunteered to perform at Barnsley Central Awards 2018 in front of more than 250 people, to show off their talents and how far they have come.
Roma young people stole the show and starred at an event specifically designed as a celebration of what it means to live in Barnsley. A little bit of well-placed youth work has helped Roma young people to be proud of Barnsley and Barnsley to be proud of its young Roma talent.
Barnsley Council’s Area Officer, Carol Brady, said “A MASSIVE THANKYOU to you and the young people for the fantastic performance last night. Everyone thought it was brilliant and I totally agree –it went way beyond my expectations.”