ASSEMBLY Minister Jeff Cuthbert visited a Pontypool school yesterday to witness their commitment to members of the Gypsy and traveller community.

Mr Cuthbert accepted an invitation by the pupils of West Monmouth School to attend their weekly Equal Project Gypsy and Traveller Youth forum for Gypsy and traveller pupils aged between 13 and 16 years old. The forum discusses discrimination, education, training and employment.

The Torfaen forum was one of the first to be set up in 2010 with funding and support from Save the Children’s Travelling Ahead project, who work to support the participation and rights of Gypsy and traveller children in Wales.

Nicole Miller, who was among the first Gypsy and traveller youths to take part in these forums, said: “The youth forum has helped get the young Gypsy and traveller children heard.

“It has helped the young people gain confidence and given them the opportunity to meet people and gain new experiences.”

Lynne Robinson, traveller education manager in Torfaen, said: “We are really proud of the youth forums achievements.”

The projects have seen school attendance and educational attainment improve amongst young Gypsy traveller pupils.

Trudy Aspinwall, Save the Children programme officer for the Travelling Ahead project said: “Much of this work is taking place against a background of increased community hostility and discrimination against Gypsy and traveller families.

“Despite the positive aspirations of government policy, there remains an urgent need for renewed efforts to understand the impact on families and the experience of young Gypsy travellers.”