About the Gypsy and Traveller community

The Gypsy and Traveller community are people who are dedicated to living a travelling existence, or who come from a travelling background. This page explains more about who the Gypsy and Traveller community are and provides an overview of accommodation-related issues affecting them.

Where Gypsy and Traveller communities live

Although Gypsy and Traveller communities see travelling as part of their identity, they can choose to live in different ways:

  • Some Gypsy and Traveller people are permanently 'on the road', moving regularly around the country from site to site

  • Others live permanently in caravans or mobile homes, on sites provided by the council, or on private sites

  • Some Gypsy and Traveller communities live in settled accommodation during winter or school term-time and then travel during the summer

  • Others may be settled altogether in 'bricks and mortar' housing

When on the road, they may stay in:

Issues Gypsy and Traveller communities face

Accommodation provision

The traditional travelling way of life is threatened by a shortage of suitable campsites and stopping areas. In Scotland, there are currently no official 'transit' sites where Gypsy and Traveller people can stop over while travelling, while many council-run sites are situated in bad locations, often due to historic reasons and travelling patterns, with inadequate facilities and limited access to services. This means that Gypsy and Traveller communities are often forced to stop in unauthorised areas, which can lead to problems and confrontations with local communities.

Eviction

Laws that protect tenants in settled housing often don't apply to Gypsy and Traveller communities living on sites, which means that often they can be moved on fairly easily. The section on eviction and rights of Gypsy and Traveller people explains more.

Discrimination and harassment

Unfortunately, many people are prejudiced against the Gypsy and Traveller community and their way of life. As a result, travelling people are likely to face a great deal of discrimination and harassment. The page on discrimination against Gypsy and Traveller communities looks at ways of combating this.

Help improve rights for Gypsy and Traveller communities

Working with the council

Councils should involve members of the Gypsy and Traveller community when drawing up plans and strategies. They may do this by:

  • putting a poster up on your site notice board, inviting Gypsy and Traveller people to a meeting

  • working with liaison organisations or other voluntary agencies to recruit representatives

  • consulting the site's residents' association, if there is one

Campaigning to end discrimination

Organisations such as Friends, Families and Travellers campaign to change the law in the UK and Scotland and improve the rights of the Gyspy and Traveller community.

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Last updated: 29 December 2014

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

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