Dale Farm Solidarity
For comment and interview, contact 07583761462
Where will our children go to school?
“Where will we go?” protest at Basildon Council offices draws public sympathy
Dale Farm residents and supporters protested at Basildon Council offices today to demand an explanation as to why the council is not fulfilling its obligation to provide culturally suitable accommodation for the 500 Travellers who will be made homeless by the eviction. The 40 protesters and residents presented the letter at the council offices. A staff member received the letter, but the residents were given no reply.
The protesters held up banners saying “Where will we go?” and “No ethnic cleansing in Basildon”.
Kathleen Mccarthy, who lives at Dale Farm, said “There is a shortage of housing in Basildon, and we don’t want to take away housing from people who have been waiting for years. We have homes, we just need a place to live together in them. There are several ongoing planning permission applications for plots in the area- if Basildon council approves them, we will willingly move.”
Members of the public joined the demonstration, many emphasising that the ongoing conflict around Dale Farm has harmed Basildon’s reputation. Basildon resident Madeleine Dowers, 65, said “back when the Dale Farm site was a scrapyard we had a lot of trouble with vandalism and antisocial behaviour, but there have been a lot less problems now that there are people living there.”
Today organisations worldwide celebrate International Literacy Day, and mothers of children who live at Dale Farm pointed out the negative impact of the eviction on the education of the 100 children who will be pulled out of school when they are made homeless by the eviction. Several brought their young children to the demonstration at the council offices today. One said: “My little one will be old enough to start school next year, but I have no idea where we will be. It’s impossible for children to have the education they need if they are on the road and being always moved on by the police- we want to live somewhere where our kids can go to school.”
A supporter, Natalie Fox, said “Today, on International Literacy Day, I am at Dale Farm with 100 children who will suffer a major disruption to their education just weeks into the school year. Travellers have among the lowest attendance rates for school in England, and some of the children of Dale Farm are the first in their family to have access to continuous education. Their families are proud of them, but are worried about the future of their children’s education when they are made homeless by the eviction.
Notes to Editors
The Department for Education report “Improving the Outcomes for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils” noted that Gypsy and Traveller pupils have the worst attendance records and lowest attainment because of inconsistent access to education. See: http://www.lancsngfl.ac.uk/projects/ema/getfile.php?src=186%2Fimproving-the-outcomes-for-gypsy-roma-and-traveller-pupils.pdf&s=4e23f9bea76c67094fbd679a67fffcea
Concerns have been raised over the future of the school attended by children from Dale Farm if a significant proportion of its pupils are evicted. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-essex-14801980. The school currently provides specialist hearing disability learning support for several children who are due to be evicted, which cannot be guaranteed to the children if they have to change school.