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Traveller forum audio from the 27th April 2005, Cambridge

mertle | 02.05.2005 18:11 | Anti-racism | Repression | Social Struggles | Cambridge

Voices from the Smithy Fen community.

9 mins edited audio and short report from the traveller forum on the 27th April 2005, Cambridge.

Traveller forum 27th April 2005 edited audio - mp3 8.4M

On the 27th April a meeting was held in Cambridge, allowing members of the traveller community at Smithy Fen to describe their experiences for themselves. A member of the London based Traveller Support Network also spoke about their work with communities across the UK.

The event, organised by Cambridge Action Network (CAN), was well attended by approximately 40-50 people, including Cambridge based activists, local journalists, and members of the community and University who previously had not attended such events, possibly attracted by not only the usual posters but also a fairly balanced interview given on local BBC radio that morning with a CAN member.

Starting with a graphic film documenting the eviction of Woodside, near Bedford, the audience was introduced to a depiction of the realities of life for travellers. The three speakers from Smith Fen elaborated on the frustrations and harassment they live with everyday, from the constant fear of being homeless to the inability to access basic social facilities such as a GP or schooling, from bailiff brutality to being unable to vote. The speaker from Traveller Support described their work with communities, including resisting or witnessing evictions.

The practical realities of living without an address, with the constant threat of homelessness, the target of harassment by everyone from politicians to publicans, were discussed in detail, bringing to light the systematic victimisation of these members of our society. Those in the audience who had previously deplored the rising tide of hatred against travellers were introduced to the people who were its targets, and were able to hear from them what effect it was having on their day to day lives.

The last part of the meeting was devoted to a discussion of what can be done by both those in the travelling communities and those outside who wished to help them. Establishing contacts between groups like CAN and members of the community, it is hoped, will lead to more successful collaborative action.

Below is a 9 min edited extract from the forum. The recording is not terribly good quality, so apologies in advance. A recording of the entire evening is also available, however its too large to upload at the moment, but if you want a copy please email the Cambridge list and we will send a CD to anyone who wants it.