AN awful lot of ill-informed rubbish is spoken and written about the Gypsy and traveller communities. You need only look at some of the comments posted on the Echo’s website to realise that. It is easy to throw slurs but harder to learn about other people’s traditions and look beyond lazy prejudice.

Many people fail to see the distinction between Travellers and Gypsies, whereas each have different ethnicities, migration and cultural histories between them.

We delete the more offensive remarks which appear on our website but opening up closed minds poses a bigger challenge and takes time.

One of our jobs as a newspaper is to get people talking. We encourage debate and hope our stories make people think and sometimes challenge their preconceptions. The Echo is meeting point for a wide cross-section of people, some who hold extreme views, and we try to represent that diversity of opinion without going against the spirit of the paper, which is to be fair-minded, respectful, informative and balanced.

It would be misleading to say that everyone in the Gypsy community is a model citizen but the same could said about any religious, racial or social group.

To see that Billy Welch is taking the time to visit schools and talk to pupils from his personal experience about some of the prejudice faced by Gypsies is a good thing, we believe.

Giving people a fair hearing and seeing things from someone else’s perspective are some of the qualities which have made Britain great.