A promotional graphic for the first session of the 'Always Learning' programme. It contains photographs of Amelia Womack and the three other participants in the session, as well as explanatory text.

One of my fondest memories I have during my time in the Green Party was staying at veteran member Anne Power’s house the night before an action day in Manchester. We stayed up until about 3am drinking cups of tea and chatting. In those small hours Anne reflected about hearing a personal story from a marginalised person and said “and what I realised during that conversation is, that at the age of 85 I am still always learning”.

This is a phrase that I will keep with me for life, and something that has really inspired me. With the two year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, increasing evidence of systemic misogyny in parliament, and a cost of living crisis which, like austerity, will harm those who are the most oppressed by society – whether that’s the working class or disabled people – then we all have a lot of learning that we need to do on how politics is harming people. We also have a lot of unlearning to do too. Learnings that are so embedded in our society that they create the culture that we need to dismantle for secure better equality.

I know that I have many of these unlearnings to do myself. I often reflect on a phrase that I hate hearing – “you don’t look like a politician”. I always think “what the hell is a politician meant to look like?”, but we all know that the phrase comes from an expression of a society that has enforced a stereotype of a politician that’s hard to crack. It’s so hard to crack that once, while attending an event on women’s rights, an SNP MP stood up in a white floral suit and long curly hair and my mind immediately thought “she doesn’t look like a politician”.

These stereotypes, tropes, phrases that are insidious in society need to be tackled. The best way to do this is to ensure that we are hearing those voices that are impacted by them.

This is why I am proud to have launched the “Always Learning” programme. Over the upcoming months, we’ll hear from people that are being harmed by cultural norms, and we’ll always leave you with an action to take to help create change.

Our first event will be form the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) community. Right now the GRT community are on the sharp end of racist policies from the government, and have also experienced a so called “joke” from a popular comedian who tried to imply the genocide of GRT communities during the holocaust is funny.

Sadly, there hasn’t been a more important time to ensure that we fight for the rights of these people.

To coincide with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History month, at 6pm on Wednesday 1 June you’ll hear from:

  • Claire Rice –  a Romany Gypsy, a GRT Human rights activist, Social Change maker, Hate Crime ambassador, BSc Psychology and MA Criminology with a deferred PHD. Her academic interest is Hate Crime, and also the New PCSC Act. She is the project Manager at GATE Herts, where she specialises in GRT community support and supporting GRT victims of domestic abuse.
  • Virgil Bitu – a Roma Human Rights activist, initiator of GR8 Power, an ad-hoc group that aims to improve GRT political representation, Member of Greens of Colour and Co-Convenor of the Green Party’s GRT Working Group.
  • Dr Marius Taba – a Romanian Roma who works for NHS Doncaster. Since February 2021 he has been member of the Board of Trustees of Friends, Families and Travellers, a leading NGO working for GRT communities from the UK. Dr Taba has more than 20 years’ track record in social development at the local and international level. He initiated and participated in international projects on policy development aiming for the advancement of education reforms for Roma in Central and Eastern Europe and worked and travelled in more than 15 countries. Taba is an experienced advocacy manager, who initiated and oversaw applied research projects, grants monitoring schemes and impact evaluations. He holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Bucharest. He held teaching positions and fellowship at the Corvinus University Budapest (2017-2020) and visiting lecturer posts at McDaniel College Budapest, Eötvös Loránd University, Central European University(CEU). He currently lectures at the Romani Studies Master Program at SNSPA, Political Science Faculty from Bucharest.

You can sign up for this event here.

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