Attending an event to mark Gypsy Roma and Traveller History Month

Gypsy Roma and Traveller (GRT) History Month was marked with a celebratory event at the University of Leeds on 5 June. 

The event, which was co-organised by Go Higher West Yorkshire (GHWY) alongside the University of Leeds’ Educational Engagement, acknowledged the commitment from academic year 2024-25 that the University has made to sign up to the Gypsy Roma Traveller Showman and Boater (GRTSB) into HE Pledge (or the GRTSB into HE Pledge).  

The University is working closely with colleagues across the institution, alongside Leeds Gypsy and Traveller Exchange (Leeds GATE), to establish their Pledge commitments.   

The GRTSB into HE Pledge 

Richard Kemp, Head of Educational Engagement (Access and Outreach) at the University of Leeds, opened the event with a talk about the importance of the Pledge. He noted it was a significant step forward in supporting GTRSB communities to access and thrive at The University of Leeds.  

The GRT community is a group that is less likely to access HE due to a range of barriers including discrimination and balancing study with domestic responsibilities. The University hopes that through CPD and training opportunities it can educate and raise awareness of these barriers across staff and students, improving targeted support and opportunities. 

As part of a commitment to the Pledge, there are a number of recommendations. This includes having a named contact for GRTSB (as HE providers already do for care-experienced and estranged students); encouraging students to self-declare; better data monitoring for Roma, Showman and Boater given data exists already for Gypsy and Traveller; and investment from leadership. 

The University is the second GHWY member to take the Pledge, which has previously been signed by University Centre Leeds. 

Keynote from Leeds GATE 

The keynote speaker at the event was Charlotte James, Team Leader at Leeds GATE. The member-led, community-based charity was set up 20 years ago. It works across all of West Yorkshire and is involved in community activism and social action. 

Suggestions that came out of the day included having a more joined approach between different stages of the education journey to help with transition, and ensuring that the community is involved in events/activities that are held for GRT History Month.  

The E in Leeds GATE stands for Exchange and this is particularly important; partnership working is not just a one-way relationship of benefitting from the expertise of Leeds GATE without giving anything back. 

Special collections and outreach activities 

In addition to keynote talks, the event included the opportunity to view the University of Leeds’ GRT Special Collections. The theme for GRT History Month 2024 is ‘What does family mean to you?’, which came through in the Collections. This consisted of photos from the Press Association as well as artwork by two artists.  

The Gypsy, Traveller and Roma Collections is a Designated Collection available for all to view. 

The Leeds GATE youth group also took part in some creative outreach activities that were delivered by the University’s Fine Art Faculty. This included a tour of the University campus. 


It was good to see people engage with the event, with was attended by some representatives from Leeds GATE that included young people from the GRT community. The talks and activities provided a unique insight into this community.  


Tahera Mayat, GHWY Collaborative Outreach Officer