A new TV series on Channel 4 will go beyond the stereotypes to examine the impact the Police Bill will have on the Gypsy Roma and Traveller community.
Explorer and adventurer Ed Stafford spent much of last summer living with Gypsy and Traveller families across Britain. From Cornwall to Cumbria he stopped with those whose lives are likely to be heavily affected by the Police Bill. It also followed Drive 2 Survive events at Appleby Fair and the Manchester Tory Party Conference. The series was produced by Romani journalist Jake Bowers.
'They don't want us here!' For 60 days @Ed_Stafford immerses himself into the Gypsy and Traveller community #60Days
Statement from Drive 2 Survive co-chair Jake Bowers, who also worked on the series
60 days with the Gypsies
"The first of two episodes of 60 days with the Gypsies was broadcast on Channel 4 on Monday night and I’m well aware that it made uncomfortable viewing for many in the community. All I would ask of those who feel the programme simply fulfilled stereotypes is to watch second episode as well, which is now on All4 here: https://www.channel4.com/programmes/60-days-with-the-gypsies
"I am, first and foremost, a proud Romany man and a journalist and journalists look at difficult subjects. This series looks primarily at the conflict that is caused by a massive lack of site provision in this country. It has long been made far worse by bad laws and terrible policing. We used this series to look at the very difficult living conditions of those who out of necessity or choice are still nomadic. For some that has put them into daily conflict with local communities and authorities, where water and even basic sanitation are a daily struggle. A truthful and honest depiction of homelessness is always going to be difficult viewing."
"It is quite clear that this is a situation that has been designed by government to assimilate us and it has largely been completed. But journalists also have a duty to provide balance and in this series that also has meant covering elements of anti-social behaviour that a minority of our community are involved in. If we had set out to make a promotional series that ignored these issues we would rightly be accused of not looking at the whole truth. It is for that reason that scenes that I also found extremely uncomfortable to watch were also included, from the fighting in Appleby to kids with knuckle dusters in Newquay."
"Some will say that we have simply made another bad programme about Gypsies and Travellers and they are of course entitled to that opinion. The truth, however, is more complex and that is that there is no community on this earth that is perfect and when you are a minority each and every one of those imperfections from the minority will always be used to judge the majority. Journalists must look at all the facts of what happen when they are filming without fear or favour to anyone. When we look in the mirror we sometimes will see things we don’t like, but it’s not the mirrors fault."
"Ultimately it is those who commit anti-social behaviour that are the ones who must reflect on how they bring us all into disrepute. Whether it is me who reports on it or someone else, it will always be reported. Some would say that a Romani journalist should never look at negatives within our own community, but a journalist who does that is no journalist at all. To do as they say would mean simply being a propagandist and the internet is littered with content that patronisingly suggests we are simply innocent recipients of oppression. If that approached really worked, it would have furthered our cause, but it has totally and utterly failed. The series is an honest portrayal and just like any good work of journalism it poses difficult questions of all. It also, like every form of storytelling, raises a conflict before looking at ways of resolving it."
"The series is a tale of two halves. The first episode looks at the problem of homelessness amongst the very few of us that are still nomadic, the second episode looks at Appleby, site provision and fighting back against the Police Bill. All I would ask is that you see the whole picture before rushing to judgement. When a TV reviewer did exactly they concluded: “60 Days with the Gypsies: a far cry from Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, thankfully.” You can read that review here:"