Meet Tóme Anoshá - Traveller support and Advice
We are proud to be a Traveller and Gypsy led community development organisation that is approachable and accessible to all. We believe that we must be pro-active if all Travellers are to enjoy equality of treatment and of access. We therefore espouse an anti-racist, anti-sexist anti-sectarian approach and we reject exclusion on the grounds of disability, sexual orientation, ethnic origin, or age. Tóme Anoshá promotes collective action, participation and community empowerment and gives priority to preventative actions and community development. Our ethos encourages community members to come together to take collective action and generate our own solutions.
We are committed to the realisation, promotion and protection of human rights, community solidarity, democracy, equality, social justice and education of our community members. We intend to work with Travellers to achieve participative democracy, sustainable development, economic and educational opportunity. Within our community there is a wealth of experience and potential which, when given appropriate support and encouragement, can be channelled into collective action in order to improve outcomes for Travellers. We wish to support our community in such a way that strengths are emphasised, experience is recognised and views and outlook is respected. It is our mission to bring Traveller issues to the attention of the majority population and government bodies and to ensure accountability through activism and cultural awareness.
Our work also includes piloting and disseminating reports, publishing research and making submissions in order to influence policy changes. We intend to develop and deliver programmes which include community development, participation and leadership, Traveller heritage, language and culture awareness, childcare and youth. We will support Travellers in addressing issues such as education, accommodation and employment also providing citizen information. True to Traveller traditions of collectivism and reciprocity, we work on an entirely voluntary basis and any funds raised is funnelled back into the organisation for delivering community projects and events. We operate on a co-operative basis, all as equal partners with equal value.
We will support Travellers in addressing issues such as education, accommodation and employment also providing citizen information. True to Traveller traditions of collectivism and reciprocity, we work on an entirely voluntary basis and any funds raised is funnelled back into the organisation for delivering community projects and events. We operate on a co-operative basis, all as equal partners with equal value.
Having each of us worked in various capacities within the Traveller NGO sector, we became somewhat frustrated by a consistent absence of Travellers in key positions in statutory agencies and no political representation whatsoever. There are no other Traveller and Gypsy led NGOs or advocacy groups in the six counties, despite having ethnic minority status here since 1997.
While the majority of organisations have good intentions, a lack of accountability and a culture of catering to funders’ requirements rather than our community’s needs has resulted in many able and talented Travellers, who have the capacity to influence real change, disengage.
Too often Travellers are touted as the public face of a project while settled people maintain actual authority. Despite community development rhetoric, NGOs in the six counties have made little or no progress in any meaningful way and as a result, recognising that we have the capacity within our own community to establish our own organisation, we came together in 2017 and started planning a means by which we could become active partners in our communities’ success, rather than being relegated to mere recipients of philanthropy.
Between us we have a wealth of experience in Traveller activism in particular and political activism more generally. Each with our own individual strengths, competencies and opinions, we feel that we complement one another and are an extremely strong group with a shared vision. We have been meeting on average of twice a week and are now fully constituted. As equal partners, all with equal value, we operate on a co-operative basis, a model that best fits our ethos. We would encourage anybody who wishes to join us to get in touch.
Main photo:Members of the Tóme Anoshá team taking a total of 32 Traveller kids to Belfast Zoo as part of their summer scheme.