More than a dozen videos and a wonderful collection of photos were produced by Traveller families taking part in the media4me project.
Three generations of Traveller families based on the Baltic site and also in houses around Gateshead.
The media4me project provided opportunities for families to use media – partly to build confidence in hands-on use of IT equipment, partly to produce stories and creative works which interested them.
A pilot scheme took place which made clear that many families would value outreach support from mentors. For centrally-based workshops, a local primary school, Brandling School, was identified and became a key partner in the project.
The initiative was proposed by Gateshead’s Ethnic Minority and Traveller Achievement Service (EMTAS) and taken forward in partnership with Brandling School and Digital Voice. Six other schools were heavily involved and provided excellent support in releasing pupils to take part in workshops and events.
More than fifty people took part in creating videos of their choice – some were behind the camera, some were logging, some editing and some on camera and narrating voiceovers.
A wide range of photographs were taken throughout the project. About three dozen were reproduced as large-scale prints for display. They included pictures showing life on the road, from breakfast outside by the fire to sunset over the hills; family fun and outings; special occasions.
One collection of photos was taken to illustrate concerns about the local site and suggestions for improvements. A book was created which was presented to local housing decision-makers.
Celebration events were held in Brandling School to share all the media with participants and their families and teachers. Certificates were presented to participants.
A special exhibition was staged at St Mary’s Heritage Centre in Gateshead to display the results: this coincided with the 2011 Census which was the first to recognise the Traveller community as a distinct ethnic group.
A 45 minute behind-the-scenes DVD was distributed to educational departments and Traveller liaison offices across the UK to help others share the learning points of the project. With it was a compilation of the videos made available as teaching resources with insights into Traveller culture.
The project greatly increased confidence in the use of many forms of media including laptops, digital cameras, video cameras. It also created very positive links between Traveller families and local schools, increasing awareness of Traveller culture amongst teachers and helping parents of pupils see how supportive schools wished to be. The end results provided a wide range of insights into Traveller life, overcoming stereotypes and enabling Travellers to feel more comfortable and proud of sharing information about their own lifestyles.
The media4me project was funded by Awards for All; the William Handley Trust; and the Roy and Pixie Baker Charitable Trust.
The Digital Voice participants felt very strongly that we too benefited a great deal from this project, and felt privileged to have been given so much time and trust by the participants. We would recommend that many other parts of the UK would gain a great deal in cross-community awareness and cohesion from similar projects.