A party from Johannesburg City Council's Economic Development Team, on an official visit to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, got first hand experience of Irish Traveller life when they visited the Westway Travellers' site, underneath the A40M Westway in North Kensington. The party's fact-finding visit has already taken them to Birmingham, Manchester and Huddersfield. Westway was one of the projects selected for their tour of North Kensington, an area officially acknowledged as experiencing major economic and social problems. The Johannesburg delegates, led by Rashid Seedat, Director of the City of Johannesburg's Corporate Planning Unit, were accompanied by Councillor Christopher Buckmaster, Deputy Mayor of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and cabinet member for education and libraries, and Graham Foster, the Royal Borough's Head of Forward Planning. The Catholic Children's Society (Westminster) provides child and family support services to the Westway community from a portacabin based on the site and the Society's Deputy Director, Rosemary Keenan, Tom Sweeney, Community Spokesman, and Brigid MacNeely, the Society's Westway Travellers Co-ordinator, were on hand to welcome the group. Visitors were shown around the afterschool and homework club in the portacabin which is also home to the newly-installed computer room which is part of the local CLIKC Online Network. CLIKC, standing for Changing Lives in Kensington and Chelsea, is a partnership between the Royal Borough and local voluntary groups which aims to provide IT-related access and training to groups experiencing high levels of economic and social exclusion. Tom Sweeney gave the visitors an insight into daily life on the Westway and explained the barriers and prejudices that Travellers often encounter. Rosemary Keenan explained how the CLIKC initiative was already making a positive difference to life on the Westway through the learning opportunities it already provides for the afterschool group and for the chances it will give to adults when a series of IT training programmes starts next month. She praised the partnership between the Society and the Royal Borough, which has done much to enhance the quality of life on the Westway site. The party rounded off its tour with a visit to the play area behind the portacabin, where they were able to see a colourful mural depicting tales and legends from Irish Traveller life. The tour ended on a positive note with plans to develop links between the afterschool group and schools in Johannesburg. For more information and pictures - visit the Catholic Children's Society website at: www.cathchild.org.uk
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