The All Party Parliamentary Group for Gypsies, Roma and Travellers aims to “promote rights and justice for Gypsy Roma and Traveller minorities who face the most severe forms of racism”.  It provides a key role in briefing parliamentarians and policy makers in issues affecting GRT communities in order to advocate for legislation and policies that promote GRT rights.  The Secretariat for the Group provides briefings of key issues and areas where it is felt that the APPG could have some influence with ministers.  The Secretariat role has very recently been taken over by the national charity Friends Families and Travellers.

Allen Lane Foundation has awarded funding of £5,000 towards the further engagement of GRT community members with informing and influencing this work.  A community engagement role at one-day-per-week will coordinate a pool of individuals to ensure that the Gypsy Roma and Traveller communities and local groups have some input into national policy.  Over the coming year, the work is likely to focus on issues including the Government’s review of eviction powers; education outcomes; and planning and delivery of site provision.

Integrate Scotland works with offenders and ex-offenders with the overall aim of reducing re-offending and bringing about sustained lasting changes to people’s lives. Based in Aberdeen, it provides support to individuals both within the local community, and also to those held in HMP Grampian. The Community Chaplaincy Service helps people with a variety of assistance including mentoring, advocacy, and practical help.

The Foundation has offered funding over a two-year period towards the salary costs of a newly created part-time Community Chaplain. This position will provide 15 hours a week of support, including delivery of Restorative Justice courses within the prison, and will support the senior Community Chaplain’s role. Outcomes anticipated from the work include improved confidence, self-esteem and wellbeing of prisoners and ex-offenders; prisoners will experience and demonstrate positive attitudinal change relating to their offending; and that ex-offenders will take part in, and integrate with the community. The grant totalled £10,000 over two years, and has been offered from February 2018.

York Travellers Trust has been working with, and supporting, the Gypsy and Traveller communities in and around York for more than 30 years. Its main aims are to empower Gypsies and Travellers; to improve their quality of life; and to enable them to become actively involved citizens. The charity’s core work is to provide essential services, training, and one-to-one assistance to community members which address their needs, especially in terms of education, employment, housing, social welfare, planning and engagement and participation.

In February 2018, the Foundation made a two-year grant of £3,500 per annum towards the York Travellers Trust’s general running costs. Over the period, the charity anticipates that it will benefit Gypsies and Travellers with increased confidence and employment options through building up their skills and learning; and by being better informed through tailored advice provision. It also aims to improve relations with the settled community through raising awareness of the Gypsy and Traveller communities, and providing training to public services and local organisations.

Mind in West Cumbria works across the boroughs of Copeland and Allerdale and offers a range of services for people with mental health issues.  It runs drop-ins in a number of different towns and villages across the area, and also offers one-to-one support, counselling, volunteering opportunities, employment assistance, and family support work.  The charity offers help for those in crisis, and also on a longer-term basis and helps members to “develop and grow”.  It has around 300 members and overall aims to assist in increasing their social engagement and improving their wellbeing and resilience.

At the February 2018 meeting, the Foundation awarded funding totalling £9,000 over a three-year period.  The grant is towards the core costs of the charity – contributing towards rent, insurance and overheads – and aims to offer some continuity and a sound base from which to operate.

Lisburn Downtown Centre is located in the heart of Lisburn, just to the south of Belfast.  Downtown offers a welcoming place for the whole community, with a focus on those feeling isolated and alone.  It supports an estimated 120 people each week.  The Centre offers drop-in sessions on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons which are open to all members of the community, with a variety of activities and a friendly cuppa.  It also runs sessions for particular groups, including for people with mild learning difficulties, older people, parents of a child with a learning disability and people with mental health issues.  These groups are generally for people referred from GPs, social services and health services.  Currently, the Friday Club supports 18 people with mental health issues, and the Cheer You Up group assists 33 older people.

A grant of £3,000 has been awarded to Lisburn Downtown Centre to contribute towards the salary of the part-time coordinator.  The coordinator is the only staff member, and runs all services, supported by a team of more than 35 volunteers.  Outcomes for the coming year are for members to have increased wellbeing and for their social isolation to be lessened through the development of supportive social networks.

Manchester Refugee Support Network (MRSN) is a registered charity which has been running for 23 years. Its core purpose is to “help build strong and independent refugee community organisations to bring about a positive and lasting change in the lives of refugees and those seeking sanctuary, and help refugees experience a happy and successful integration into their new home country”. It is a membership organisation, supporting and working with more than 40 local refugee community organisations. MRSN frequently organises events and projects aimed at promoting and celebrating refugee cultures, and improving the mental and physical wellbeing of refugees themselves.

The charity also offers an advice service, with drop-in advice sessions on three days each week, and by appointment on the other two days. It supports around 550 clients a year. The advice worker and volunteers provide one-to-one holistic support, often in partnership with a range of organisations, to help clients navigate complex and bureaucratic systems, and to get the help they need.

The Foundation has offered funding of £9,935 towards the salary of the advice worker two days per week so that the advice provision can continue. Outcomes of the charity overall are that members will have increased confidence and employment options through building up their skills and learning; that they will be better informed through advice provision; and that generally, relations with local communities will be improved.

West Norfolk Befriending is a registered charity that provides a befriending service for older people. Based in King’s Lynn, the area the service covers is very rural with poor public transport links. Older people can easily become isolated, particularly when families do not live nearby, and many of the people the charity assists are lonely. West Norfolk Befriending provides a service which aims to enhance their quality of life; maintain their independence; reduce their isolation; improve their physical and mental wellbeing; and identify risks to their health and environment.

All befriending volunteers are trained and DBS checked visiting older people in their homes on a regular basis to listen, and provide emotional and social support. Befriending is generally for a period of up to a year, with the individual being encouraged to join other groups or clubs afterward. At the time of the grant being made, the service had 36 befriending clients, with a further ten awaiting matches. In February 2018, the Foundation awarded a two-year grant of £3,000 per annum towards the salary of a client assessor. This role is vital in assessing the needs of clients, and ensuring a good match is made with a volunteer befriender. The funding will allow for increased capacity of the role.