Leeds Gypsy and Traveller Exchange and Lankelly Chase Foundation have worked together since 2014. Initially our work explored the role and value of concepts such as Asset Based Community Development and Co-production in addressing severe and multiple disadvantage affecting Gypsy and Traveller people. The outcomes of that work have led to greater understanding of the way that systems and people from marginalised groups interact. Asset mapping techniques developed during the work have led to Leeds GATE launching a concept of Roads, Bridges and Tunnels to describe and articulate difference between assumed access (Roads), planned alternatives (Bridges) and DIY solutions to overcoming access barriers (Tunnels). Our observation is that this concept can be applied to the relationship between systems and individuals from groups experiencing marginalisation, including but not limited to Gypsies and Travellers, sex workers, refugee and asylum seekers, LGBT and others. Our work now, building on the learning gathered, is to explore how an intention to act in solidarity between marginalised groups, applying our own asset based understanding and concepts, and supporting leadership development, can address and amend system driven marginalisation.
Leeds Gypsy and Traveller Exchange is a community members’ civil society organisation based in Leeds, West Yorkshire which was founded in 2003. Estimates of the population of Gypsies and Travellers in West Yorkshire are in the region of 7000 individuals. Our aim is to improve quality of life for our members via improving accommodation (satisfaction and choice); improving health; improving education, employment and financial inclusion; and via increasing citizenship and social inclusion. Our inward facing objective is organisational innovation and excellence. We work to a set of Value Statements as follows-
Leeds GATE belongs to Gypsies and Travellers
Leeds GATE is welcoming
Leeds GATE respects people’s privacy
Leeds GATE believes that people should be safe
Leeds GATE helps people to help themselves
Leeds GATE is honest and open
Leeds GATE doesn’t make promises that can’t be kept
Leeds GATE is brave and creative
Leeds GATE believes that everyone is equal and can be included.
Our relationship with Lankelly Chase Foundation is underpinned by our value statements and particularly supports our values of helping people to help themselves, and of being brave and creative. The organisation currently employs ten full and part time staff. The governing Executive Board is committed to being 55% representative of the communities we serve. Leeds GATE is a GSK/Kings Fund 2018 Impact Award winner, partly based on work supported by Lankelly Chase Foundation.
As well as being underpinned by our Value Statements we have also identified the behaviours we want to see in our work as follows –
Creative—we will look for new ways of doing things, new ideas and new ways of standing in solidarity with others.
Learning – reflecting on our work, learning from what works and what doesn’t, sharing learning with our members and others.
Human Rights – of our members and of all people will be promoted through our work
Asset Based—we will always start from our members strengths, people are not helpless and have solutions to their problems. We believe in communities working together to build on their strengths, investing in and developing leadership
Our work resonates with Lankelly Chase Foundation’s framework of system change behaviours, particularly in that people are viewed as resourceful and bringing strengths, everyone is viewed as bringing both strengths and weaknesses as part of a resourceful network of people who are continually growing and learning from each other; and that people are sharing a vision in which they appreciate each other’s perspectives and seek common purpose and understanding.
This period of enquiry is involving us in exploring how marginalised people can work in solidarity together and how young people can express and develop leadership to overcome exclusion. We are seeking to work in those spaces/areas where we find overlap between our members’ experiences and those of people from other communities experiencing marginalisation and displacement. We will be using a range of approaches to take the enquiry forward including further Roads, Bridges and Tunnels mapping and using Lewis Method Deep Democracy and Co-Resolve methodology to explore how conducting dialogue in a different way might lead to different outcomes. We are being supported in the by our appointed learning partner Together for Peace.
There are two tensions we recognise in this work. These are a) compatibility with organisation overall aim and objects – how does spending time and resources with other marginalised communities lead directly to improvements in quality of life for Gypsy and Traveller people and b) to be aware of where there is not common ground with other marginalised groups (for example where we are campaigning for inclusion of Gypsies and Travellers in the NHS Data Dictionary but this would not be appropriate for sex workers).