Celebrating Roma Culture & Heritage in Ipswich

31 May 2019

Seven Ipswich schools have collaborated with arts organisations Eastern Angles, Gecko Theatre, DanceEast, New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich Community Media and BBC Radio Suffolk in a new event celebrating the Roma community.

On Tuesday 11th June at DanceEast, Vocile Noastre - Our Voices will be a jam-packed event highlighting the communities, culture and heritage of Europe’s largest ethnic minority group: the vibrant and diverse Roma Community. The event will include personal stories, films, music and theatre created and performed by young people from some of our Roma communities living here in Ipswich and will also include a short presentation by guest speaker Petr Torak MBE.

Vocile Noastre is the brainchild of Kate Hodgetts, Headteacher at St Helen’s Primary School, she says:

“As the Head Teacher of St. Helen’s, I am fully aware of the difficulties communities and educators face when catering for the needs of our EAL pupils.  St. Helen’s is proud to be culturally diverse and inclusive. The children understand the importance of equity over equality and show this in a variety of ways.

Over the years I have developed a greater understanding of our Roma community and am happy to say I have developed some good relationships with this marginalised group allowing me to give the pupils in my school the opportunities they deserve. I am aware that I cannot do it all, and the lack of funding for this particular group is non-existent as most families are not eligible for pupil premium.  The children, however, are more disadvantaged than many EAL or Pupil Premium pupils as they have no written language and a home country education that is seriously flawed. Many children begin our schools in Key Stage Two unable to read and write, yet if they arrive before year 5 we are expected to get them to the expected level by the end of year 6.

The reputation many of our Roma communities have is poor, but we are eager to change the stereotype and celebrate the strengths they have.

After visiting a fantastic school in Leicester last December, I had an idea.  I wanted others to see what I see when I work with our Romas. I wanted others to gain more of an insight into the communities.  I wanted our Roma families to feel valued and wanted. I wanted them to have opportunities- to have a voice.”