Irish Travellers and Romany Gypsies are an indigenous minority ethnic group, documented as being part of Irish and British society for centuries. Their distinctive way of life, values, culture and traditions manifest themselves in Traveller ‘nomadism’, the centrality of the extended family, their own language and the entrepreneurial nature of their economy. Travellers traditionally travelled to seek work to survive.
Both, Irish Travellers and Romany Gypsies, (hereafter referred to as Traveller communities) are documented as the most disadvantaged ethnic groups in Britain today. It is estimated that there are 300,000 of Travellers in Britain although this is thought to be an underestimate due to their lack of participation in the census.
The Traveller Movement (TM) was established in 1999 as a second-tier community development charity, following the recognition of a gap in service provision and the marginalisation of the Irish Traveller community in Britain. TM gained charitable status in 2003. Following a recognised demand and the capabilities TM expanded its remit in 2008 to include work with all other Gypsy Roma and Traveller communities in Britain.
Through commissioning and collating research, TM has become the leading charity and first point of contact regarding Traveller issues. The key issues affecting Travellers are detailed below:-
- Accommodation is a key issue for Travellers, since sites tend to be situated in environmentally deprived areas – on wasteland, floodplains or under motorway flyovers. This has a negative effect on both physical and mental health which is compounded by a lack of access to services that are especially geared to Traveller needs.
- There are not enough sites for Travellers. As a consequence, many are housed in inappropriate ‘bricks and mortar’ accommodation which precludes the fundamental nomadic lifestyle central to Traveller culture. This can be a cause of psychological problems, including depression. It can also lead to neighbour disputes due to lifestyle differences.
- Child poverty is a significant problem within Traveller communities.
- Approximately 80% of Travellers are illiterate and consequently have difficulty filing in forms or dealing with correspondence. This can impact significantly on activities that other communities take for granted – for example, many are unable to complete the theory test for a driving licence.
- Less than 4% of Traveller children gain GCSEs and this has a significant impact on their employment prospects. Many Traveller men work in manual trades, whilst women attend to childcare. Bullying at school is also a significant issue affecting Traveller children and many will ‘drop out’ by the age of eleven. According to the Children’s Society, 63% of Traveller children experience bullying.
- The media is almost universally negative about the Traveller community which has a detrimental effect on public attitudes, resulting in racism, discrimination, exclusion and harassment.
Our Vision is of a world in which members of The Gypsy and Traveller Communities reach their full potential; where they are accepted, proud of who they are and have an equal voice.
Our Mission is to develop a platform and voice for Travellers, working in solidarity with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, within the UK and across Europe, to achieve equality through self-determination and proactive participation in influencing and shaping policy.
Our Ambition is to extend our EU influence and remain the most effective UK resource, information and lobbying charity for groups, organisations and individuals working for and with the Traveller communities in Britain so that collectively we can bring about significant, positive change for people living in those communities.
- We believe that discrimination is wrong
- We are opposed to racism in all its forms
- We value and promote diversity
- We believe in equality of access to services and in equality under the law
- We value and promote self-determination, believing that individuals have the right to make choices about issues affecting them
- We endorse the Declaration of Human Rights
- We value the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller identities and cultures
- We work in partnership with the Traveller communities
“I have gained more awareness which will allow me to have a better understanding when working with the Travelling community. All of it was useful and having Kelly during the training was very useful.” Wandsworth Council worker.
“A fantastic and truly inspiring training session. I have learned so much about these communities that has really challenged me.” Probation Officer Northampton.
“An excellent organisation punching well above its weight .” Equality and Human Rights Commission Officer
“It was really excellent to meet with the professional community trainers from the Traveller Movement. It makes the training more authentic.” Domestic Violence worker London
“Given me a grater understanding of the community and some of the difficulties they can experience while in our establishment . I now have some ideas to run with on how we can address some of the difficulties very easily by applying so lateral thinking now that we are aware.” Prison Officer Woodhill HMPS
Every year we publish an annual review which sets out what we achieved in the previous year. The latest 2013 edition can be found here.
For previous editions of our Annual Review click here