The story of Eileen – a Romani gypsy

Did you know Romani gypsy families have been living in Dorset since the 16th century? Let’s find out more about them and their fascinating lifestyle – through the remarkable story of a lady who spent most of her life on the road.

Travelling for fifty years by horse and waggon might be difficult to imagine for many.

But not for the niece of the Queen of the Gypsies, Eileen Ika Rawlings (née Hughes) – born in 1943 – who lived this lifestyle with her husband, Dave Rawlings.

Eileen had a fascinating family history. Her aunt, Caroline Hughes became famous outside the traveller world in the 1960s – not only because of her beauty, but also for her fine singing voice. After being recorded by the BBC for Ewan MacColl’s Radio Ballads, she was known by many as the ‘Queen of the Gypsies’. 

Dave was a non-Gypsy or ‘gorja’, and marrying someone outside of the community was rare in those days, but they had a love match – so the couple got married in 1961.

Discovering the highways and byways of Dorset, Wiltshire, Somerset and Gloucestershire might sound promising, but it certainly wasn’t an easy life to live.

Eileen and Dave would spend much of their day collecting water and firewood, making a living by the work of their hands fashioning clothes pegs and paper flowers, and helping with the elderflower and blackcurrant harvests.

Thanks to Dave’s fine baritone voice and ability to play the mandolin, additional income came through for the couple from busking.

They would travel as far north as Stow-on-the-Wold for the twice-yearly horse fair and would over winter in Chalk Valley in Wiltshire.

Eileen in particular would love to talk to locals as she sat on the steps of the waggon, while the couple journeyed around the countryside.

When they moved on, they would always leave their overnight stopping place cleaner than when they had arrived.

Since they had many relatives who had settled on sites and in houses around Dorset, at one point they decided to hang up the harness and settle in a house near Dorchester. However, just like many other travellers, Eileen couldn’t stand living in bricks and mortar.

After three weeks of feeling hemmed in, they decided to move to the council-run traveller site in Piddle Hinton – where, by keeping a small horse, Eileen could feel like back in the days when they were still travelling.

Eileen Ika Rawlings died on the 15th May 2020. Their four children, 13 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren keep her legacy alive.

Training dates: 3rd party reporting

Prejudice Free Dorset is pleased to offer a set of free, online training sessions on third party reporting to organisations across Dorset.

The sessions, which can be booked free of charge via Eventbrite, are suitable for any organisation looking to become a third party reporting centre, as well as organisations already working with us.

Spaces are limited, so please register your interest via any of the links below if you wish to take part:

  • Wednesday 20 January, 11:00 – 12:30 – Register
  • Wednesday 17 February, 11:00 – 12:30 – Register
  • Tuesday 23 March, 11:00 – 12:30 – Register

For a current list of third party reporting centres in Dorset, visit the Dorset Police website.

If you have any further questions, please contact us here.

‘Uniting businesses to tackle hate crime’ – a letter from our Business Sub-Committee

By Dr. Ray Davies, Chair of Business Sub-Committee, PFD

Dear PFD Members and Friends,

Prejudice Free Dorset’s Business Sub-Committee was born from the 2019 ‘No Place for Hate’ Conference. Delegates felt that local businesses could play a real part in helping to reduce prejudice in our county.

We’re now into the final months of the year and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are still very much affecting our personal and professional lives, with a second lockdown in place. Nevertheless, the PFD sub-committees have been busy at work in the background, looking at actions in the new year.

The Business Sub-Committee is very much doing so too, targeting actions to realise the vision of PFD, in practical terms, in the retail and SME sector.

The actions envisioned will be in three areas: communications, perceptions and supportive measures to practical responses from the retail and SME sector which care about addressing hate crime and other incidents in a working environment.

The initial pilot in the new year will be targeted at users of Poole Bus Station and integration with Dolphin Shopping Centre and the Poole Bid, to be then subsequently rolled out across Dorset.

We look forward to everyone’s participation in the pilot as Prejudice Free Dorset takes on this important leadership role within the business community in order to tackle hate crime once and for all.

Hate Crime Awareness Week 2020

During Hate Crime Awareness Week (10th – 17th October), partners in Bournemouth, Christchurch, Poole and Dorset will continue to work together to promote awareness around tackling prejudice and hate crime.

Look out for events and activities on Prejudice Free Dorset’s website, Twitter and Facebook page.  In the meantime, there are 26 local reporting centres for victims and bystanders to contact to receive information and guidance around resilience and reporting.

Dorset Police continue to be fully committed in responding swiftly to incidents and the Wessex area still has one of the highest successive prosecution rates and to date.

Partner organisations have distributed posters, leaflets, conducted presentations in schools and community settings, produced a short film about how local systems support victims and undertaken training on how to effectively report incidents.

New working group to support BAME residents, visitors and staff

By Graham Farrant, Chief Executive at BCP Council

The recent local, national and international protests have provoked a lot of discussion amongst BCP Council members and the leadership team of the Council, who are committed to addressing the diversity and equalities agenda of our Corporate Strategy and Delivery Plan. 

An independent working group is now being set up to review how the Council will ensure effective and long term inclusivity and engagement with our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff, residents and visitors.

We expect that the group will engage with a range of council and community representatives as part of its research and that the group itself will comprise a mixture of councillors and independent people. The terms of reference for the group are currently being drafted and the process for inviting expressions of interest to join the group is underway.

The working group will be recognised as part of the Council’s Equality & Diversity Governance Framework, reporting to the Strategic Equality Leadership Group. Their findings will be used to inform how the council develops and delivers its services and be a key contributor to the Council’s wider equality & diversity action plan.

This working group will be in addition to the Community Equality Champions group which is already in place and responding to the community concerns that have arisen in response to the Black Lives Matter protests and to the concerns of the impact on COVID-19 on BAME individuals and communities.

Please be assured that the Council remains committed to connecting and empowering communities so that everyone feels safe, engaged and included and so that we genuinely create a vibrant community with outstanding quality of life where everyone can play an active role.

For more information on hate crime, visit our ‘Support for you’ pages.

A positive view of ageing

By Susan Ward-Rice, Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Dorset Council

In both BCP and Dorset Council areas, the number of older people is above average. In the BCP area alone, there are over 85,000 people aged 65+, whilst in the rest of Dorset the figure is in excess of 107,000 – and those numbers are set to increase over the next decade.

Similarly, the age profile nationally is changing and the number of people aged 65+ will increase by more than 40% within 20 years. The number of households where the older person is 85 and over is increasing faster than any other age group (ONS, 2017).

So when we think about older people, are we having positive or negative thoughts?

Unfortunately, research indicates that we often think negatively about them. From the age of six onwards*, society tells us that growing old is a bad thing and this negative attitude is especially reflected in our media.

50% of John Lewis’ TV adverts feature people over the age 50, but their entire 2019 Instagram feed – containing more than 650 posts – had just one which featured someone over 50. Another example is beauty brand No. 7 which regularly features someone over 50 in their TV adverts, yet some of their social media posts continue to use anti-ageing language such as ‘fight signs of ageing’ and ‘discover best age-defying results’.

What is ageism?

Ageism or age discrimination is when someone treats you unfairly because of your age. One in three people in the UK report experiencing age prejudice or age discrimination.

It can take many forms, from depicting older people as helpless, frail, incompetent and out-of-touch to discriminatory practices in healthcare. It can involve raising concerns about whether or not older people should receive medical treatment; whether they should be refused car and travel insurance or financial credit because of their age, and so on.

A recent report by the Centre for Ageing Better, entitled Doddery But Dear?, shows that older people are widely mocked and demonised by the rest of society. The report looked at existing research on attitudes to ageing and found that older workers are seen as having lower levels of performance and lesser ability to learn, as well as being more costly than younger workers.

People’s protected characteristics also influence how people are viewed. For example an older man may be spoken about differently to an older woman. The report also found that when a person has multiple identities this often results in a ‘double jeopardy’. So where people are already marginalised because of their ethnicity or sex, this is further stigmatised as they age.

Negative attitudes about older people can have a significant impact on physical and mental health. Research indicates that older people who feel they are a burden perceive their lives to be less valuable, putting them at risk of depression and social isolation.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) suggests that older people who hold negative views about their own ageing do not recover as well from illness and live on average 7.5 years less than people with positive attitudes.

Why talk about this now?

Today, on 1st October, we celebrate the International Day of Older Persons. The theme for this year is challenging perceptions around older age and turning perceived negatives into positives.

As individuals and organisations, we can all play our part by:

  • taking a positive view of ageing;
  • treating older people with respect and dignity;
  • challenging ageism, such as ageist language and age discrimination;
  • making sure that older people’s voices are listened to and acted upon.

*Source: Ageing Better (Link)

Working together to ensure Dorset is no place for hate

By Martyn Underhill, Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner

I am proud to be a member of Prejudice Free Dorset and its work to raise awareness of hate crime in Dorset.

It brings organisations together with a common goal to help make the county a place where everyone can live, work and visit free from hostility and prejudice.

The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner along with all members of Prejudice Free Dorset has signed the partnership’s Charter.

This sets out our collective commitment to work together to tackle hate crime and help provide a consistent approach across the county. It includes commitments around reporting, governance and our response – all vital to enable us to challenge attitudes and find ways to reduce fear and prejudice in our communities.

To explain why commitments such as these matter, I’d like to focus on the issue of reporting hate crimes.

I know from speaking to victims that there can be a reluctance to report hate crimes to the authorities.

I can understand why a victim might not come forward if they don’t believe any action will be taken and so, we need to reassure victims that all partner agencies will take their reports seriously.

Without this information we cannot understand the full scale of the issue nor bring offenders to justice. We can do this by a whole range of activities – including educating our members and partner agencies about the impact of hate crime and incidents, sharing best practice across the local community and explaining the different ways that victims can come forward.

So, please be assured that reports will always be taken seriously and we are all working hard to make sure the way we collectively handle reports continues to improve.

Hate crime isn’t something we’re going to crack overnight – it is a complicated problem which has seen an ugly resurgence nationally over recent years.

Our Charter sends a clear message that hate crime will not be tolerated. It is the responsibility of all members of society to challenge hate crime and hate incidents and the Charter provides assurance to communities right across the county that members of Prejudice Free Dorset will lead the way.

Building a prejudice free community

By Superintendent Gavin Dudfield, Chair of Prejudice Free Dorset

All members of Prejudice Free Dorset have been asked to write a short blog regarding their roles, any projects they are working on or any current or non-recent issues that may be of interest to those who visit this site.  I have decided to simply write about how I have become involved with PFD and how I will work with the large network of volunteers to help make Dorset prejudice free. 

By way of introduction, I am a Superintendent at Dorset Police. I am responsible for Neighbourhood Policing across Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch. I am also the force lead for tackling hate crime, which has led me to become a member of PFD.

The police have chaired PFD for some years and I was selected to become the temporary Chair in September 2019 and elected as the full-time Chair around Christmas 2019. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was committing myself to or whether I’d have the skills to lead this important area of work. Luckily, I am surrounded by such passionate individuals who are dedicated to creating a fair and just society, who have either lived experiences or a wealth of experience working in the areas of legitimacy, diversity and equality.

My first outing at a public conference was the #NoPlaceForHate conference where members of PFD put on a brilliant event with excellent performers and guest speakers. The guest speakers and Q&A panel provided clear insight surrounding their experiences suffering prejudice and hate crimes. For me it was the perfect start to the role as it was clear that there was so much energy and support to make Dorset a place where everyone can feel safe.

Prejudice Free Dorset’s inaugural ‘No Place for Hate’ conference in 2019

I listened to the feedback from the conference and I reviewed the results of some analysis completed by Bournemouth University regarding community issues that needed attention. As Chair, I decided to use these findings to set up a number of projects, which are all being led and worked on by members of PFD. These include…

  • further conferences and bespoke learning events for organisations that have requested PFD support,
  • working with private businesses to develop prejudice free organisations and safe places,
  • working with the Night Time Economy to ensure everyone that visits our towns on nights out can feel safe, whether they are socialising or working,
  • and developing education packages to address prejudice and hate at an early age.

In the future, I wish to develop a wider connection with all of our communities in Dorset so that the Police and any other agency can benefit from hearing lived experiences and can take advice on day-to-day issues or broader issues that are affecting our society. If anyone wishes to become involved and wishes to represent their community, please have a look at the PFD’s various member organisations and make contact with the agency that you feel comfortable with.

A great starting point will always be Dorset Race Equality Council for any information or advice. PFD, itself, is not an organisation, it is a group of passionate and dedicated people working together to ensure all services are accessible to everyone. We are happy to have uncomfortable conversations and develop solutions to issues in order to make positive change, but we will need to do this with you.

To conclude I wish to highlight the lengths Dorset Police are going to, in order to investigate and deal with hate crime. We have dedicated ‘champions’ who have had extra training so that they can best support victims of crime, and help deliver an outcome that supports the victim’s views.

We also have a considerable amount of supervisors who are accountable for the investigations. We want to hear about any crimes or incidents and we want to do all we can to protect victims of crime and bring offenders to justice. As a police force, we really do want to do the right thing but I am aware that we don’t always get it right and there may be some people or communities that do not trust the police as a result.

We, the police, are members of the public who put on a uniform, and try and keep law and order.  We want to ensure that we represent all communities that we serve and I would encourage anyone who has a desire to join the Police to review the Positive Action recruitment campaign.

EBYA stars return with new digital show [VIDEO]

The undoubted stars of the 2019 No Place for Hate Conference were the performers from Extraordinary Bodies Young Artists (EBYA). They were, by far, noted as the most uplifting part of the  conference and Prejudice Free Dorset wanted to bring you up to date with what they have been up to recently.

Since the beginning of lockdown, the EBYA young artists have been creating new digital work around their show “Till We Win”. They have been working with Biggerhouse Film and talented musician and composer Harry Bassett on a new piece called “This Town Of Ours”. They are now ready to share it with the world!

This Town Of Ours is about fighting back and gaining a voice. It’s about celebrating the role of ‘difference’ and diversity in our community. EBYA stand in solidarity with #WeShallNotBeRemoved – the UK disability arts alliance that supports Deaf, neurodivergent and disabled creatives and organisations through and after Covid-19.

This Town Of Ours is a direct response to being in lockdown, wanting to keep our creativity thriving and making our voices heard. It’s our message to our community and a demand for respect, equality, unity in the world.”

The EBYA Team
Watch the premiere here
‘This Town Of Ours?’ was created by Diverse City’s Extraordinary Bodies Young Artists in collaboration with Biggerhouse Film and Harry Bassett

For an audio described version of the video, click here!

We need your input!

We’re looking at commissioning a new Hate Crime Reporting App, as the current app isn’t universally accessible. But before we do so, we would like to know your views!

In order for the PFD App to be as useful as possible we want to understand what features you would like to see, and whether you would use it.

The feedback from our survey will be used to determine the next steps in relation to producing the new PFD App.

If you live in Dorset, you can fill in the short questionnaire (only 5 questions) here…

There are many ways to report a hate crime incident. Read more here.