Our BigReal Gypsy Lives: Bigger. Truer. Happier. is the result of months ofwork with young people by the Lincolnshire Traveller Initiative using £48,000provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
LTI staff joined forces with artists to give around 10 young peopleaged between nine and 24 from the Gypsy and Traveller community the opportunityto create their own poetry and prose and to learn the skills needed to talk totheir elders about their lives and traditions and record the conversations.
The result is a fascinating portrait of the reality of life inside oneof the county's most marginalised communities in the 21st century.
David Lambert of Lincoln-based cultural solutions UK, which hasco-ordinated the project on behalf of the LTI, said: "This has been anincredible journey. We have had to work so hard to gain the trust of acommunity which is understandably suspicious of 'outsiders' and we acknowledgehow brave some members of that community have been in choosing to work with us.
"The results are quite stunning. We have learnt so much abouttraditions around food, work, education, the role of women and more from theolder people, while the young people have produced some incredible pieces ofpoetry and prose which, we hope, will give the 'settled' community an insightinto the challenges and joys in their lives.
"People have shared stories with the young people as interviewersabout subjects as diverse as how they choose schools for their children and theincreasing importance of a good education to how to catch and cook a hedgehogthe traditional way – although the young people certainly weren't keen ondining on one."
The results of the project, which include a book documenting theinterviews and showcasing the young people's writing, a professionally-madedocumentary film, an audio CD, photographs, a touring exhibition and a new LTIwebsite will be unveiled at a special gathering at the Gordon Boswell RomanyMuseum in Spalding on Wednesday February 27.
An education pack, which will be used in Lincolnshire schools and isbased on the work the project has produced, will also be launched at the event.It is aimed at children aged seven to13.
English, art, craft, history, discussions and other classroom activitiescontained in the pack will help to raise awareness and understanding of Gypsyand Traveller lifestyles.
Paul Boucher of the LTI said: "This project has been a wonderfulextension of the work we do with Gypsy and Traveller children and young peopleacross Lincolnshire on a regular basis.
"It was inspirational watching the young people's confidence grow asthey carried out this very important work capturing the details of their livesso that they can be shared with the wider community and, particularly, withother children in Lincolnshire schools.
"Hopefully what we have done will improve understanding of one ofBritain's most misunderstood cultures and have an impact on the number ofracially-motivated incidents against them that are reported each year."
Work on researching and creating the elements of the project, includingthe film and audio recordings, began in June last year
A creative team from across the country was recruited to work with thecharity. It included social artist Katie Smith from Boston, who worked with theyoung people on issues of identity through photography and writing,London-based film-maker Charlotte Billand creative writer Charlotte Ansell.
The team held several sessions with young Travellers at sites aroundthe county, including Grantham, Gainsborough, Beckingham, Gosberton and Spalding.
The gathering which will introduce the project's work takes place atthe Gordon Boswell Romany Museum at Clay Lake, Spalding, on February 27 from11am-1.30pm. There are limited places available for visitors but they must bereserved in advance via email@example.com
Lincolnshire TravellerInitiative works across the whole county to help members of Gypsy and Travellercommunities get access to a range of learning courses from different trainingproviders. It also develops its own training courses.
It is supported byLincolnshire County Council. The county council's continuing support meansTravellers and Gypsies across the county can benefit from the charity'sspecialist advice, support and unique teaching techniques.