mfc 121 darren ward 1b square

MFC In-Person Network Event Concludes

Tuesday 17th January saw the first ever in-person meeting of Moving for Change Network members take place at the Resource Centre, London.

After months of virtual meetings and phone calls, some forty network members were finally able to go face to face and touch base personally.

The event was chaired by Josie O’Driscoll, CEO of GATEHerts, and began with an overview from Kari Griffiths, MfC’s Programme Manager.

Kari summarised MfC’s achievements so far, which include:

  • Over £400,000 spent on commissioned projects;
  • The establishment of Professional Mentorships;
  • 16 Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month projects commissioned.

But clearly there is still more to do, and early on it was established that MfC needs to have a bigger presence in Scotland and Wales, and particularly in Northern Ireland, for it to have a truly national scope.

Then it was down to business, with participants choosing to join one of three seminar groups:

  • Culturally Appropriate Site Design, chaired by architect Darren Ward.
  • Non-Formal Education, chaired by Eilidh Mcleod and Chantelle Watson from Article 12;
  • Mental Health and Suicide Support, chaired by Claire Rice of GATEHerts and Margaret Greenfields from Anglia Ruskin University.

All three groups were lively and informal, with the floor being constantly open to observations, thoughts and the occasional friendly contradiction.

Also in attendance, and checking in with each of the groups, were Christine Wyard and Hannah Harris of Consultancy Made Easy, who had been working in tandem with GATEHerts to make an external assessment of MfC’s activities to help direct the Network towards a brighter future.

Darren Ward took his group through “how GRT culture and identity can be developed into meaningful built environments.

The aim was to get Gypsies and Travellers to be part of the conversation when it came to the design of new or refurbished sites. In particular the group felt there needed to be a guide for site design as drawn up by Gypsy and Traveller communities based on their own lived experience and to ensure best practice.

Lived experience was very much part of the other two conversations as Chantelle Watson recalled her own non-formal education in South Lanarkshire.

Meanwhile Eilidh Mcleod talked about “Young Gypsy/Travellers’ Lives: Education at the Roadside”, an Article 12 project providing educational services and resources for nomadic families based in North East Scotland and the Scottish Highlands, commissioned by MfC.

The need for a similar project to be undertaken in the rest of the country was very much a focus of this group’s conversation.

Conversation – and the need for more of it – was also a key point of Claire Rice and Margaret Greenfields mental health group. This is a difficult subject and silence often surrounds it.

Not only is there a need for conversations within Gypsy and Traveller communities about mental health needs, but service providers must be better trained to enter into those conversations and understand the needs of Gypsies and Travellers.

The last part of the day was spent forming Cluster Groups, where Network members could set their key aims and arrange when to meet again to start to take action.

As the ideas from these groups become reality, we’ll be covering the developments and watch as Moving for Change itself moves towards change.



Moving for Change brings together the key players working to improve the quality of life for nomadic Gypsies and Travellers and the communities in which they live across the UK.