Effingham Residents Association hosted a well-attended Gypsy Traveller Seminar
Pictured above: Cllr Hilda Brazil (left) and Mrs Anne Wilson MBE (right) both of the Surrey Gypsy Traveller Forum
Yesterday (17/2/16) Effingham Residents Association organised and sponsored a seminar entitled Gypsy Travellers their Past, Present and Future. The event took place in the King George V Main Hall that looked magnificent, freshly painted and decked out with a few beautiful flower arrangements. The audience of 40 was mostly made up of Borough and County Council officials, a local head teacher as well as local gypsies and residents.
Pictured above: Vanessa Walden Headmistress of St Lawrence School with Her Majesty’s Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey Mr. Bill Biddell
The opening address and welcome was given by the Hon. Freeman of the Borough Of Guildford Mrs. Jen Powell and the closing address by Her Majesty’s Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey Mr. Bill Biddell who was accompanied by his wife Bridget. The latter were officially greeted by the EFFRA Chairman Chris Dick and Secretary David King with PCSO Gregor Culross.
The Seminar was well presented by John Hockley QPM, former Police Officer and co-chairman of the the Surrey Gypsy Traveller Forum (Pictured above standing) together with Mark Haythorne
The seminar highlighted the origins, perceptions, educational and housing problems and the massive prejudice suffered by gypsies and travellers both internally and externally.
The Surrey Advertiser reporter James Watkins was present but kindly agreed on this occasion not to report on the well natured no-holds-barred questions from the audience. However, James will no doubt report later on the responses from the presenters with some more pictures taken by the Surrey Advertiser photographer.
Whilst the PCC Kevin Hurley was unable to attend his deputy Shiraz Mirza took his place. Shiraz provides equality and diversity advice to the PCC working to build links with minority and hard-to-reach groups across Surrey whilst making sure that they receive a good service from Surrey Police – a factor demonstrated with video footage that this is not always present from other police forces. At one point during the seminar the audience was dismayed to see footage of children being manhandled by Police during an enforced site clearance. The recorded comments from children were a real eye-opener.
From an educational point of view it was clear that gypsy and traveller children did well at primary school but tended to drop out during secondary school returning later to seek further education at college. The reasons for dropping out were numerous, complicated and cultural. Clearly continuing through secondary education was seen as key to many of the problems raised.