Travellers' champion Lord Avebury in running for award
ERIC Lubbock, 4th Baron Avebury has been shortlisted for a diplomacy award for his work with Gypsies and Travellers.
The Grassroots Diplomat Initiative Award, now in its second year, recognises the work of UK- based politicians and diplomats who fight for civilian interests at the highest level.
Lord Avebury has been fighting for Traveller rights for half a century. He is best known amongst Britain's Romany and Traveller people for his work on the 1968 Caravan Sites Act, which made it law for Councils to provide proper sites for Gypsies and Travellers and their caravans. The 1968 Act was repealed by the Conservatives in 1994, and since then very few new sites have been built.
In a country where very few politicians are willing to stand up for Gypsy and Traveller rights, Lord Avebury has continued to champion their access to education and a place to live. Recently, he supported the campaign against the billboards advertising Channel 4's Big Fat Gypsy Weddings as "Bigger, Fatter, Gypsier". The campaign was a success and Channel 4 was reprimanded for using sexualised images of a child.
He also called for a peaceful solution to the Dale Farm dispute, before the government and Basildon Council joined forces to carry out the biggest eviction of Travellers in British history.
Lord Avebury is patron of the Traveller Movement and has been President of ACERT (Advisory Council on the Education of Romany and other Travellers), as well as Chair of the Department for Education Stakeholder Group on Gypsies, Romanies and Travellers.
Talyn Rahman-Figueroa, Director of Grassroot Diplomat, said: “The award illustrates that we do have government representatives that actively work on meeting the people’s needs and we must focus on bringing more positive role models into society and diminish negative news - that is the grassroot diplomacy way”.