Roma Networking Group
The Roma minority in both the Czech Republic and Slovakia are frequent stereotyped negatively as somehow “problematic” by the majority. This has led to the formation of social distances between the majority and the minority. It is of course associated with xenophobia, the result is often a conflict.
Many agencies are beginning to respond to this situation and developing services in connection with the needs of this community. It became clear that we need to establish a network to help those families in many areas – accommodation, health care, social assistance, schooling, and work connections.
The first official meeting of the newly established Roma Networking Group took place on January 4th, 2016 with membership including: Toronto Public Health, TDSB, CultureLink, Flemington Health Centre, Flemington Community Centre, Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office and Golden Miles Employment and Social Services. The group reviewed what kind of support they are offering the Roma community now, and what they need to help with. This exchange of information was invaluable for the agency staff to share resources with their clients.
An important outcome of this group is that together with the Flemington Health Centre and the TDSB, CultureLink will be running a SHARP program with the Roma youth from the area. The first session will take place Monday, February 29th. The program is about the importance of healthy eating and how it relates to self-esteem and body image. The idea is to raise the awareness about sexual health among the young people in the area.
Important connections have been made with the Golden Miles Employment Agency. The program Investing in Families will take place Wednesday, February 24th. CultureLink’s goal is to intervene and advocate for the vulnerable Roma clients in response to their complaints about discrimination and unfair treatment in the community. This migration has affected the lives of Roma and their efforts to achieve equal treatment, integration and citizenship in their country of residence as well as their homeland.
Simona Kolarova – Newcomer Settlement Program Staff