Members of the Gypsy and Traveller community joined staff and trustees online for the LGT Annual General Meeting last week, to hear about a unique year for the organisation and the community in London.
Presentations at the Zoom event, also streamed live on Facebook, described how COVID-19 had affected Gypsies and Travellers, and how LGT had adapted its services in the face of lockdowns.
In a new video reporting on the year, entitled “Staying Connected in 2020”, LGT’s Community Engagement Officer, Mena Mongan, said that the pandemic had hit the community hard: “Kids out of school, families out of work, myths about the vaccine, worries from elderly people,” she said.
But LGT had responded. Staff explained how advice services had successfully moved from face-to-face meetings to phone, how advocacy work had continued the fight for Gypsy and Traveller rights, how youth education had developed, and how the community development team had produced short information films throughout the pandemic.
“We’ve become closer as an organisation through this pandemic,” said Community Campaigner Tracie Giles. “We were able to get the information out to the community that we needed to. Personally, I would say this year has been LGT at its best. Like the community itself, we’ve always been able to adapt. That’s one of our strengths.”
Debby Kennett, LGT’s Chief Executive, said that given that outreach is at the heart of LGT’s work, at the start of lockdown it was hard to imagine how the organisation could continue to deliver its work. “It’s been amazing how the team has risen to that challenge and found creative ways of continuing to keep that connection,” she said.
The event also saw the launch of London Gypsies and Travellers’ 2020 Annual Report, which provides details of achievement in supporting families, responding to the pandemic, communicating strong messages, challenging injustice, working with other organisations, supporting young people and showcasing heritage.
“This report tells stories of incredible adaptability, resilience and generosity,” says Sarah Taylor, Chair of the Board of Trustees, in her introduction. “Despite COVID, a lot happened in 2020 that we can look back on with pride.”