Life as a Roma Youth

posted 29 Sept 2013, 12:59 by Unknown user   [ updated 26 Nov 2013, 01:52 ]

My name is Patrick Neuman. I am 22 years old, a Roma (Gypsy) who has been living in the UK since 1999. I spent most of my teen life acting as a translator for my family who did not speak a word of English and were unfamiliar with the local culture and ‘norms’. Their language barrier meant I was always expected to be available to attend appointments with them. This had a major effect on me as I missed out on a lot of things that normal teenagers did. It felt like I had to carry their problems on my shoulders which at times I felt was unfair. However, there was no one else to help them out; I felt responsible. I was the only person in my family that spoke English. How could I not help them out?

I constantly began to worry about my family’s troubles and the difficulties they experienced. It began to affect me more than I realised at the time. I felt different; did I fit in with the norm? The pressure I felt enveloped me in a tight grasp. I couldn’t concentrate at school and my behaviour and attitude towards learning became increasingly negative. During the summer holidays it was always the same. More appointments, form filling, translation… At times I felt I had just had enough L But as the proverb goes, when the going gets tough, the tough get going! I realised that there must be many more Patrick’s out there, experiencing all the things I was. I began looking into other ways of helping members from my community.

I started to work for a charity called the Roma Support Group that was based in London. It was a group offering advocacy and support to the Roma community in order to tackle the language barriers in place.  They also carried out many projects focused on working with Roma youth. Finally, I felt a huge sense of relief, there was help out there for me, my family and others! They inspired me to stay in education and gave me a lot to think about. I was now beginning to think about my future, not only as a teenager but as a young Roma person living in Britain.

I have been living in Nottingham for some time now and I can see the universal issues affecting my community. Doesn’t matter what city we live in, we all face the same barriers in education, community integration and employment.

I have a vision. I want to set up a group that can help local young Roma stay in education and not be consumed by their family’s troubles as I was.

My main objective is to:

·         help Roma youth stay in education 

·         organise projects to keep them ‘off the streets’ 

·         design workshops which will help them focus on their future/career options

·         help them tackle language barriers 

·         tackle the negative stereotypes that exist

·         most importantly, to promote wider integration within different communities in the area, make them aware that we’re are not all the same.

I shared my vision with Shabana and Steve, community organisers working in Sneinton. They took the time to listen to the needs of my community and could envisage my vision becoming a reality. With their help we set up the ‘Roma Youth Community Project’. We have secured a little office to work from at the TRACs Neighbourhood Centre and have some funding applications pending for much needed equipment. Baby steps… a small step for me but a big leap for the Roma community.

For more details on how to get involved with our project please contact:

Shabana ( or Steve (