Rosaleen is an Irish Traveller, a mother of three lovely children and currently interns at the Education Project in the Traveller Movement.
Normally at elections, I always hear politicians using Travellers to try and get more votes from the settled community. It’s almost like they see the settled community as more important citizens and they paint us in a way that we are a drain to society.
This has always made me feel like politics is for the settled community and not for us Travellers; because they aren’t going to stand up for our rights and they don’t see us as equals to the settled people.
Not only that, they also speak in jargon on the news and no one knows what they are going on about! I’m sure the settled people feel this too.
With all this it’s no surprise that many of us don’t understand what’s going on and end up thinking that whatever happens we don’t have a say anyway and we will be better off sitting back and hoping for the best.
In the past few months I’ve started to see things differently. I’ve recently started working on an education project and from that I’ve seen how politics effects everyday life.
So when politicians speak about things like education, planning or health I now see that it will have an impact on my children’s future and my family’s future and also our present.
The Operation Traveller Vote campaign has highlighted to me how the different issues are in fact relevant to us and why we should think about these issues more.
I’ve started to think that part of the reason why the politicians keep ignoring us is because we aren’t getting involved in politics and we aren’t making our voices heard.
The decisions these politicians are making really do matter to all of us, including Travellers. Take Housing Benefit, the Benefit Cap and the price rent as examples.
The price of rent is always going up and people need Housing Benefit more than ever if they’re going to have enough to live. If things keep getting harder, more and more people are going to have to make the choice of either paying rent or feeding their children.
I foresee Travellers will then have to go back on the road again to find somewhere affordable. But the lack of sites and places to stop is worrying.
That’s why at election times it’s really important for Travellers to have their voices heard. Because if we don’t take action now things can get much worse and affect Travellers way of life.
If we want things to change, we can no longer sit back and hope for the best. We need to get out there and vote and make politicians listen to us.
That’s why I’ll definitely be voting on the 8th June and encouraging all my friends and family too!