When Martin Burrell moved to Luton in 2009, he had already been working with English Romany community for a decade. His work carried over to the Eastern European Roma community in the local area, and the community welcomed him. Martin learned the Roma language with them and was introduced to other families in the area.
By 2011, the community was gathering weekly and overflowed into a Pentecostal church, delivering Romani language services. Mini buses were deployed to bring families all across Luton and a team formed to continue the work.
As the community grew, Martin and the team transitioned the leadership of the church to the Roma and focused on empowering future generations to embrace their education and heritage.
The Luton Roma Trust gained charitable status in 2015, with Martin, Bishop Richard and Chris Neilson acting as trustees. We operated two branches: daily crisis intervention and education. We monitored the progress of each family and ensured that children were in full time education. At the same time, our Music Project developed.
The number of Roma families reached over 700 by 2017. Our interventions took us to the Town Hall, to banks, letting agencies, doctor’s surgeries, hospitals, courts, education and welfare services, employment agencies, and beyond.
We began working with local schools, which approached us to help them raise the educational standards of the Roma pupils as well as to help them better integrate into the school life.
Through a successful funding bid from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local government we were able to secure our own premises and opened the Roma Community Centre. Soon after we registered our 1,000th beneficiary.
We continued supporting Roma migrants in Luton with their queries. A big emphases was given to the EU Settlement Scheme. We started wide-spreading information about EUSS online in various languages (including Romanes language), partnering with other charities. Our aim was to inform about the scheme and support with the applications as many Roma people as possible.
Corona virus outbreak changed our working mode. We kept delivering our services over the phone and internet. Simultaneously, we were producing video clips about safety measures and changing lockdown rules.
Tel: +44 (0) 158 2510709