WHAT WAS THE ISSUE?
Gypsy Roma Travellers in the UK are often marginalised and misrepresented by the media. A MORI poll showed that more than one-third of respondents were prejudiced against travellers/gypsies, more than any other ethnic group.
After holding meetings with young members of the Roma Traveller community, it was decided that an online forum tailored to their needs would help give young travellers the means to alter this situation. Working with the community we created’Savvy Chavvy’ (chavvy being the Romany word for youth), a social networking site administered by its users, where young travellers can network, blog and distribute media content amongst their peers.
Participants were trained in social media – photography, podcasting and video, so they could create media on issues relevant and important to the community and encourage other members of the site to do likewise providing an expanding hub for citizen journalism and user-generated media, and creating a sense that young people can change how their community is perceived, without having to depend on others to do it for them.
WHAT DID WE DO?
In 2007 & 2008 we trained 50 young people in social media techniques – such as podcasting, photography and videoblogging. They then went on to make several short films to reflect the vibrancy of the gypsy traveller community. These included films about boxing, religion, bullying and immigration.
The community is still expanding as existing members spread the word and new users join. Potential users answer a few pre-set questions and are then admitted by a group user-administrators. There are over 4,000 ‘Savvy Chavvies’ and the number is growing!
With active discussion forums on issues important to the community, Savvy Chavvy is contributing to community cohesion, and helping young travellers develop the confidence to use the internet as a cultural space they can make their own.
The network won the Community Award at the 2008 UK Catalyst Awards – these awards are designed to promote people who are using modern technologies to support and empower communities – and was featured in the book, Social by Social (a practical guide to using new technologies to deliver social impact), as well as The Guardian newspaper in July 2008.
WHO WAS THE FUNDER?