Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Update - Rokker Radio - Pavee Lackeen

Having watched the film Pavee Lackeen a few months ago, I’d posted about BBC Three Counties Radio show Rokker Radio – a peak time show catering for the underrepresented travelling community.

A couple of months on, how is it going? This week’s Ariel magazine includes an article about the journey so far.

Turns out that Rokker Radio is going from strength to strength. The producer Karen Shrosbery explains that the presenter Jake Bowers, who once travelled in a traditional Romany caravan, has built a sense of trust with the previously shy community.

“… we’re giving people a voice, even putting them on air, for the first time. We’ve spoken to mothers about the difficulties of getting their children into schools and to a grandmother who would like to move to a permanent site but is struggling to find one where she can be with her family.”

“The barriers have particularly come down among the older generation, who relish the chance to pass on stories about their culture …”

Many of the themes mentioned in the article echo the issues raised by the Maughan family in Pavee Lackeen. Buy it on DVD now!

And now over the summer, the six BBC local radio stations in the east of England are combining together to simulcast the show across the whole region.

Jake Bowers points out that the traveller community “is about the same size as the Bangladeshi community, half of one percent of the population”, but whereas Bangladeshis are now taking advantage of BBC training courses, Bowers is only aware of one other BBC employee “with Romani blood”.

Good to see a minority community and culture getting a voice and a focus – something that can only add to the richness of society , increasing understanding and decreasing unfounded hate.

Contrast this story to the spate of racist attacks across Northern Ireland at the weekend.

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