CHARITY bosses have slammed a backlash against Govanhill's Roma community claiming social media rumours have created a "tense and racialised" atmosphere in the area.

Since social distancing began in a bid to slow the spread of Covid-19, images have been shared online claiming to be of Roma people in Govanhill.

These have since been shown to be from other areas of the UK - but charity Romano Lav said the damage has been done.

It is believed up to 50 per cent of the local Romania Roma population have now returned to mainland Europe as they feel under threat from racist abuse.

It is understood that three Govanhill Roma people have recently died, with one being a Roma religious leader and important figure in the community.

A picture of a small family group marking his funeral was shared on social media and in the press.

Davie Donaldson, chairman of Romano Lav, said: "These images have created a tense and racialised atmosphere where Govanhill’s Roma communities are placed unfairly under the spotlight regarding social distancing.

"The most recent photograph relates to a small family funeral gathering for a member of the community who has died.

"We are appalled that, rather than sympathy, Roma people are being attacked at a time when they are losing loved ones."

In Govanhill, Roma families are often housed in cramped accommodation of poor standard.

Overcrowding and poverty mean the community is more vulnerable to the virus than other groups in society.

Davie said: "We understand that as many as 50 per cent of the local Romanian Roma community have now returned to Romania or are in the process of doing so.

"They are relocating because they do not feel safe in Scotland, both from COVID19 or from racialised abuse based on misinformation and prejudice."

Romano Lav sayd many members of the different Roma communities in Govanhill are also key workers, meaning that they are at a higher risk than many other people.

They work in agriculture, supporting food production.

They also work in warehouses and other distribution centres, as well as cleaning hospitals and care homes.

Davie added: "This fact should be appreciated more than it currently is."

With schools being closed due to the pandemic, Roma children are being particularly negatively affected as many do not have access to technology and internet access.

With libraries and schools now closed their education is suffering more than other communities although education services and charities are working to help.