Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The Churches’ Attitude to the Travelling Community in Scotland

Travelling north. Travelling on A 6177Image via Wikipedia
The following article, Sorry is the Hardest Word, is from the Action for Churches Together in Scotland (ACTS) website.  The full report is also on the website.

On Monday May 23rd, the day before the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland received the ecumenically prepared Report on the Churches’ Attitudes to Travelling People, Jess Smith, an author and herself a Scottish Gypsy Traveller, presented her monologue “Sorry is the Hardest Word” at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh’s High Street.

An audience of more than fifty people, including several Assembly Commissioners, came to hear Jess speak of the injustices and cruelties which had been inflicted by Scottish society on the Travelling Community over the centuries.

However, the evening began in an unexpected way. A Maori chant was performed by a visitor from New Zealand who had come to Scotland especially to express her people’s fellow feeling for the Scottish Gypsy Travellers and to meet with Jess.

While pulling no punches about the pain inflicted on the Travelling Community, Jess captured her audience’s attention with humour and pathos as she told her tale of what led her to a confrontational encounter with a prominent Scottish politician and to her day in court.

After her monologue Jess was joined on stage by the Rev. Tilly Wilson, also a Traveller, for a period of open discussion. As members of the audience raised points and expressed their support, Jess and Tilly were able to provide vivid examples from their own experiences of the treatment meted out to Travellers.
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