AN Irish traveller has told how she is campaigning against hate in her community - using her huge TikTok page as a platform.
Bridgey Wall, 26, whose family hail from Tipperary, in the Republic of Ireland, lives in London.
On her TikTok page, which has 197k followers, she has revealed how she is subjected to hate because of her heritage which she is very proud of.
People - including strangers - say cruel things like: “You’re just raging because your house has wheels” and “[You’re] thieving lying scumbags.”
But now Bridgey has started a campaign to stop discrimination against travellers under the hashtag #stoptravellerhate.
It’s a subject she feels hugely passionately about.
“Thank you on behalf of the traveller community for allowing me to voice the ongoing hate and discrimination towards our community,” she said.
“I have been a victim of online trolls, both women and men. I've been fat-shamed and shamed for speaking out against aspects of beliefs within the community and more. However, I've pushed through and continued to do what I feel is right.”
She is also keen to dispel myths which are sometimes made about travellers.
“Unfortunately, people generalise about us all the time, whether it be related to violence, crime or that we don't contribute to the community or pay tax,” she said.
“I think these stereotypes are unfair and should be deemed as discrimination.
“I believe there are bad and good people in every community and it's unfair to discriminate against an entire community continuously.”
Previously Bridgey claimed she was forced to get married as a 16-year-old, divorcing in her early 20s.
She told her TikTok followers in a heart-wrenching video: "I was forced to get married, I never even knew about my own wedding until that day.
"I didn't know I was getting married until the morning of my sixteenth birthday.
“I woke up and there was the big white wedding dress and I was forced to be married."
She thanked her followers who supported her after she told this story.
“I have had incredible support online from people who are part of my community and also outside the community,” she said. “I came out with my story and voiced my experience which gained me over 100k followers as a result.”
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Bridgey, currently in temporary housing, dreams of owning her own caravan.
“I would love nothing more than to own a caravan of my own,” she said. “I want to provide my family with better opportunities than I had growing up and I want to have a happy and safe place to live every day.”
And while she’s keen to crush unfair stereotypes about travellers she admitted there was one which was true. “Cleanliness is something we pride ourselves on,” she laughed.
“We all take a lot of pride in ourselves and our homes and this has always been the case in our community.”
Ultimately her main aim is to make positive change. “I remember how isolated I was being married at 16,” she said.
“I am very proud of my background. I came from a very decent, loving family who instilled strong values in me growing up.
“I would like my platform to continue growing so I can be a voice of reason to people.
“I also want to be a voice for the traveller community and let the world know that we are not all the violent dangerous people that society thinks we are.
“There are so many decent people in my community and it's unfair to be discriminated against.
“The truth is that no community should be stereotyped, discriminated against or treated as lower-class citizens in this day and age.”
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