Martin is a trustee and the chaplain for the Roma community. He is married to Margareta, originally from Switzerland, and they have three children, Rebecca, Naomi and Leo.
Martin Burrell's first vocation was as a professional clarinettist - a career which began in Sweden and ended in Scotland. Called then to serve in the Church of England, Martin’s first post was as curate of St Mary's Bredin, Canterbury. He then became vicar of St Dunstan's, Cranbrook in Kent. It was there that he was first drawn to the English Romanies living in the parish. Their ancestors had migrated to England at the time of Henry VIII. Aware of how deeply they were changing his outlook on life and faith, in 2009 he wrote up his experiences in “The Pure in Heart - An Epistle from the Romanies.”
Moving on to become vicar of Christchurch, Bushmead in Luton, he became aware of the growing number of Roma families from Eastern Europe who were arriving in town in search of work. Clearly, these people were “chips of the same block” as his Romani friends in Kent! Martin embarked on learning the Romani language, sensing that this would be the route to the soul of this most marginalised group in Europe. As he got to know more Roma families, Luton Roma Church began to take shape and Martin was appointed Chaplain to the Gypsies, Travellers and Roma for the Diocese of St Alban's. With the encouragement of the Diocese St Alban’s, Luton Roma Trust was born in 2015 with the specific aim of giving the Roma people a future and a hope such that they had never dreamt of.
As the work of the Trust took off, Martin was provided with a 'house for duty' by the Diocese of St Alban's in return for his work with the Luton Roma community. This made it possible for him to focus his energies on the work of the Trust.
Since 2016 Martin chairs the Churches Network for the Gypsies, Traveller and Roma - a UK wide group of church leaders and activists who affirm and support the work of all denominations. We meet in Church House, Westminster, London.
In 2016 Martin joined the Europe-wide Roma Networks, meeting with church leaders who head up projects with the Roma from 27 nations. In 2017 he was invited to represent the work in the UK.
Click below to order a copy of Martin's book, "The Pure in Heart - An Epistle from the Romanies" 2009. This tells the story of Martin's work with the English Romanies in Cranbrook, Kent...
Paul Sayers is our Roma Education Champion and is married to Stephanie. They have three sons. Paul began working with us in September 2016. Funding arrived in summer 2017 for Paul to begin a second year and to double his hours as our education project continues to develop across Luton.
Paul and Stephanie spent a few years with a foundation which worked with Roma families in Bucharest. Together they worked to encourage a number of marginalised families to enrol their children in school, and as a foundation acted as a link between the parents and the school whilst trying to empower and encourage the parents to take responsibility for their children's education.
As part of this they initially assisted the children in their journey to and from school and helped them with their homework a few days a week. They took part in running a summer school to help the older children remember what they'd been taught the year before, and to help prepare the younger children (who hadn't been to any form of preschool) for starting school.