Profile on Romany campaigner Sybil Lee
'When you first meet Sybil Lee what grabs your attention first is her amazing energy!.. writes Andree Marsh.
Sybil greets you with a big smile and automatically engages you in friendly conversation whether you have known her for 20 seconds or 20 years! She is one of those rare individuals that can put you at ease straight away - testimony to this is the number of friends she has made throughout Europe, you really cannot go anywhere in the UK or Europe without bumping into someone that knows her!
Sybil has the ability to converse and engage easily with anybody on any issue that affects Roma, Romanies and Irish Travellers. She is passionate and empathetic on her subjects and has such a thorough knowledge and understanding of her subjects that an hour long conversation with her feels like 10 minutes. Sybil is never afraid to ask questions, or demand answers and as a Trainer well, those that she has trained will tell you she is truly amazing.
Recently, whilst in Poland with Sybil, I was talking with a senior officer from the Council of Europe and he told me that as the first young Romany person to enter the European arena she had been a remarkable young lady, he went on to say that she had become an even more remarkable woman and that even though he had not seen her for eight years she had not changed.
Sybil Lee comes from a Romany family, her father is a Lee and her mum, a Boswell - two prominent families in UK Romany history. She has spent all her life living in a caravan with her family, and in fact still lives in a caravan on the same site her family has lived on for the past 30 years, living a traditional Romany lifestyle and like many other Romanies not gaining qualifications at school.
Since being the first young Romany to attend conferences in Europe with FERYP (Forum for European Roma Young People) Sybil has participated in numerous European conferences, seminars, events and training and even spent 3 months working as an Intern in Budapest for the European Roma Rights Centre, a legal organisation that takes countries to court for the violation of Human Rights.
As well as continuing to attend conferences and seminars in Europe Sybil has also continued to work with young Roma and their families in the UK. She also delivers training in Cultural Diversity, Human Rights, Traveller Education and other subjects to statutory and non-statutory organisations and NGOs.
She is a fully qualified Romed Mediator, and was a facilitator for the University of Lancaster's Peer Project with young Gypsies and Travellers.
Sybil Lee really is a great, positive role model for young and old alike and I am sure that we will hearing more of her achievements in the future. Kushti Bok to this amazing, and in the words of the Council of Europe representative, remarkable young woman'.
By Andree Marsh
This article was ammended on 24/08/2017