Hi! I just wanted to introduce myself and explain a bit about Future4fairgrounds who are a group of 6 women. All Showmen based all over the UK some of us travel with our businesses some of us are permanently based at coastal towns. Personally I am 6th generation Showman. I live in Norfolk with my family operating our family business on the coast. My husband and I have 3 children our daughter is in year 10 at secondary school, we also have have a son studying a BTech course in college and our eldest son is in his first year at university in Manchester. The first in our family to do so. We have always supported them in their education. They have attended school and have achieved amazing results.
When I was asked to join together with 5 other women in September 2020 I did so not just because I was concerned for the fairground industry but I was worried for the future of my children in it. Yes my children are following an education system further than I or my husband had ever done.
Future4Fairgrounds formed in September 2020 to raise further awareness of our community. As wives and mothers we were concerned about the issues we were facing as a community due to the pandemic and the impact on our children’s future in a industry that is generational. Since then we have continued to look at how Showmen are represented and have come to realise that while our industry -the fairground is recognised in many ways, our community -Showmen are not. This is particularly evident in the education system where Showmen children are in fact invisible.
Showmen are included in the umbrella of GRT policy but we are unable to identify separately. There is no place for a Showman to identify on a school enrolment or admissions form unlike other travelling communities and many educational settings are unaware of our young people in school. Issues arise when our way of life is not understood by the schools our young people attend due to our community not being recognised. Our community is often misunderstood and misrepresented and we experience prejudice and discrimination daily this inequality is seen daily by our young people. The fairground theme can be applied in many subjects; art, science, DT, history, English, PHSE and we know schools that do use it for certain topics.
Resources for schools that are fairground themed are few and far between and often incorrect. Resources that are based on our community are even less available and are even more inaccurate. However they are both much needed with our industry lending itself to many subjects in school. We believe resources should be authentic and have a community source. We believe in positive representation and are championing an incredible book called The Show Must Go On. We have raised funds to gift 2000 copies to primary schools around the uk so far. We would like to see better recognition, representation and understanding of our community in all educational settings. This book is the first of its kind and because of our book project it is already having an impact on how our community is seen.
This was only published in 2021 and we have gifted over 2000 copies to schools around the Uk. Together with Michelle Russell we have developed some work sheets that can be used together or independently from the book. Hopefully sparking a thought, starting a conversation, and making a difference to the Showmen in school and those that teach Showmen children and also those outside of our community who find out more about our unique culture. We would hope that more resources could be made and that we might be able to work with someone like you who knows what teachers use and want to see in a resource?
Diversity and inclusion are often seen as buzz words and just box ticking exercises. Maybe that is right but if we don’t take the opportunities to try to make a difference nothing will change! We can all help to change things we need to be heard as a community as do so many more. We created World Fun Fair Month in September last year for the very reason that there wasn’t a time in the “awareness calendar” that was dedicated to our community. Showmen are often overlooked, unrecognised and misrepresented even in places where diverse groups are seen.
I know it’s a long message I’m sorry but I wanted to explain as much as I could.
Colleen – Future4Fairgrounds