Empowering the Roma community in Luton

There are around 3000 Romas in Luton. Working at the heart of Luton’s Roma community, we meet them in their deepest and basic needs, helping them to access accommodation, education, welfare, health care and employment. We empower each individual to engage more actively in the life of the town, seek employment, and to understand their community and their rights as citizens of the UK. And we encourage them to do so. As our families rebuild their lives in Luton, we lift their eyes to the horizon, helping them to glimpse a future in which they will no longer be trapped in poverty and the victims of discrimination. 

Rationale

The Roma community has been systematically disempowered throughout history – centuries of enslavement, genocide under the Nazi regime, and forced integration under Communist regimes. Even today, segregated schooling is still widespread in some parts of Europe, limiting the future promises of Roma children. Lack of political representation has left the community without a voice. 

To change all of that, our work gives individuals the tools they need to be active members of UK society – we help children enrol and stay in schools, where they can access equal education. By helping Roma people access healthcare and employment opportunities, we support them to contribute to society as all citizens should.

Current Services

Social integration (e.g. national insurance number)

Housing support

Support healthcare access (e.g. registering with GP, booking appointments)

Support with school enrolment 

Support accessing benefits

Holistic ad-hoc support (e.g. checking into a flight, booking appointments)

Working with new mums – antenatal /perinatal mental health ‘clinic’

Nicoleta* is a widow with six children. At the time we began working with her, her oldest son had a life-threatening meningitis condition, whilst she was out of work and homeless – getting by from selling flowers on the streets. She could not get a National Insurance Number on the basis of casual work; it was also not yet legal for Romanians to have regular jobs with an employer.  

With support, Nicoleta was granted a NINo and her son recovered. We managed to find her part time work as a cleaner for a reputable company, who held her up as a model worker. Under these brighter conditions, her older daughters moved out of her care and got married. 

However, Nicoleta went on to experience three evictions – none of her own making. And two of her three sons experienced extreme difficulties at their secondary schools. As a single mother, she was particularly in need of support. 

Eventually, she was able to access welfare and rent a home of her own. She is a shining example to her community of what is possible through sheer determination to break through.  She now is seeking permanent residency in the UK – the next hurdle for us to help her over!

Several years later and we are now engaged in trying to get Nicoleta’s older sons into regular work. Their schooling has provided them with fluent English – but insufficient literacy to access more promising employment. We are also still working with the younger two children, hoping they will emerge from school with sufficient education for the cycle of family poverty to be broken.

*Nicoleta is a pseudonym.

Our work in Action

Contact us:

Tel: +44 (0) 158 2510709

Email: office@lutonromatrust.org.uk