Accommodation and travelling

Why do some Gypsies and Travellers set up unauthorised sites?

Many Gypsies and Travellers set up unauthorised sites because they are homeless and have no legal place to park their caravans. This is as a result of the chronic shortage of Traveller sites in the UK, largely as a consequence of the inequalities and discrimination Gypsies and Travellers face in the planning system. Statistically half of applications for new Traveller sites are successful in England, compared with around 70 per cent of residential housing applications. It is estimated that at the current rate of Traveller site provision, it will take local authorities 18 years to meet the site requirements set for a 5 year period.

Where do Gypsies and Travellers live?

Approximately half of all Gypsies and Travellers in the UK live in ‘bricks and mortar’ housing, many of them against their will and directly as a consequence of the dire shortage of Traveller sites nationwide. The majority (77 percent) of Gypsies and Travellers living in caravans live on either privately funded permanent authorised sites (46 percent) or on socially rented local authority sites (31 percent). A minority of Gypsies and Travellers live on what are described as unauthorised sites (23 percent), of these approximately 10 percent own the land they are living on and 13 percent are camping on either private or local authority land. It is widely recognised that Gypsies and Travellers living on unauthorised sites are highly vulnerable and likely to have poorer access to healthcare, education and employment.

Are Gypsies and Travellers still nomadic?

Many Gypsies and Travellers continue to travel for the purposes of work, traditional festivals, and family events, especially during summer months when the weather is more suitable and children are out of school.  However, in recent decades it has become increasingly difficult for these communities to practice a traditional nomadic lifestyle as a result of the chronic shortage of authorised stopping places and sites and dramatic changes in the wider services economy. For community members who have ceased to travel, their nomadic history and traditions remain an intrinsic part of their identity and culture.



Why do they experience poor education outcomes?

The poor outcomes for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils may be due to a combination of factors, including financial deprivation, discrimination and marginalisation, low levels of parental literacy and aspiration for their children’s academic achievement, poor attendance, and racist bullying. Research by the Traveller Movement found that many Traveller parents remove their children from school due to racist bullying. In such cases community members considered this a form of indirect exclusion due to the school not effectively addressing racist bullying. Community members have also described many schools not being willing to engage with Travellers to better understand their culture and to enable them to better understand school policies and procedures.

What are the education issues experienced by Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils?

Gypsy, Traveller and Roma pupils are amongst the lowest-achieving groups at every key stage of education. 25 percent of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils achieved national expectations in english and mathematics at the end of their primary education, compared with 74 percent of all pupils. At the end of secondary education, just 12 percent of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils achieved five or more good GCSEs, including English and Mathematics, compared with 58.2 percent of all pupils. Pupils from these communities also have the poorest attendance and highest exclusion rates compared to pupils from the wider population.



Do Gypsies and Travellers face economic disadvantage?

Despite many Gypsies and Travellers running successful businesses and being in the professions, data from the 2011 Census shows that Gypsies and Irish Travellers face particularly disadvantaged in the labour market. Both men and women from these groups have very low rates of economic activity (67% for men and 41% for women) and very high rates of unemployment (16% for men and 19% for women). This largely stems from the educational disadvantages and high levels of exclusion and discrimination experienced by community members from an early age.

What do Gypsies and Travellers do for a living?

Gypsies and Travellers run businesses and are employed in a wide variety of traditional and contemporary work areas. More traditional roles include ‘trading’ e.g. selling wares on open market stalls (such as carpets or three piece suites), dealing in scrap metal and working in construction and agriculture. Other traditional activities include working in skilled manual trades such as gardening, tree surgery and horse breeding or animal training. Gypsies and Travellers are also widely engaged in the mainstream economy in professions such as law, teaching, police and journalism. There are also many community members working in the charity sector in roles such as community development, advice and empowerment.



Why do they experience such poor health outcomes and what problems do they face accessing health services?

The reasons for such poor health outcomes are numerous and include high levels of illiteracy; lack of good quality health supporting accommodation; marginalization and discrimination; lack of knowledge and mistrust of mainstream services. Procedures for registering and accessing primary care services is a significant barrier, as well as a lack of cultural awareness and cultural competency amongst health staff which can cause misunderstanding and tension, and can deter some from seeking health care until there is an emergency. These factors can also be compounded by a sense of fatalism and low expectations about their own health and health services – ill health is seen as normal, an inevitable consequence of adverse social circumstances.

What are the health issues experienced by Gypsies and Travellers?

Gypsies and Travellers have some of the worst health outcomes of any ethnic minority group, with studies showing that they have significantly lower life expectancy than the general population. Other health issues, such as high infant mortality rates, high maternal mortality rates, low child immunisation levels, mental health issues, substances misuse issues and diabetes are also seen to be prevalent in the Gypsy and Traveller communities.


The Traveller Movement

What kind of an organisation is the Traveller Movement?

The Traveller Movement (TM) is a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee.  As a charity, TM has to abide by operational standards set down by the Charity Commission. TM has a Board of Trustees, which manages the business of the charity. The Board consists of Travellers and professionals who are interested in furthering the welfare and development of Britain’s Traveller communities. The Board is strategically guided and supported by the Traveller Advisory Group, which is a Traveller only committee.

Can I do volunteering work for the Traveller Movement?

We welcome volunteers, and often for specific events and projects we may run throughout the year. Click here to visit our page on volunteering with us

Do The Traveller Movement have an internship program?

Yes The Traveller Movement runs an internship scheme! For information please Click here to visit our Internship page