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House of Lords written question – answered on 10th July 2013.

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Photo of Baroness Whitaker Baroness Whitaker Labour

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Warsi on 1 July (WA 172), whether the United Kingdom Embassy in Bucharest has undertaken any further involvement in the twinning arrangement between the authorities in Rotherham and Craiova in South West Romania; and, if so, what information has been shared on Roma (1) social inclusion, (2) early years education, (3) health, (4) social housing and (5) employment.

Photo of Baroness Warsi Baroness Warsi Senior Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Jointly with the Department for Communities and Local Government), Senior Minister of State (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Faith and Communities) (also in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

Our Embassy in Bucharest facilitated an exchange between Dolj county, of which Craiova is the capital city, and Rotherham Council. This was to allow them to share ideas on how to improve the conditions for the Roma populations in both communities. The Embassy funded two-way field visits in January and March this year for local councillors and experts from each area to meet and share best practice.

On social inclusion, the idea of community champions to act as a conduit for information and advice for the Roma community was discussed.

On education and health, representatives from Rotherham explained how Rotherham schools had introduced free breakfast and lunch for children of the poorest families. Information was also exchanged on the key role schools play in i) encouraging employment opportunities by holding classes on vocational training for parents and ii) facilitating workshops for community workers to provide advice on issues such as family health and housing opportunities. These initiatives, and others, were important in supporting the Roma communities in both countries.

The Government supports this initiative and looks forward to seeing further cooperation between the authorities of both countries to help support Roma communities.

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