Gypsies and Travellers

The term Gypsy, Roma and Traveller is a collective term used to describe a wide variety of cultural and ethnic groups. There are many ways in which ethnicity may be established: these include language, nomadic way of life, and crucially, self-identification. Defining a person as a Gypsy, Roma or Traveller is a matter of self-ascription and does not exclude those who are living in houses. Ethnic identity is not lost when members of the communities settle, but it continues and adapts to the new circumstances.

A number of different groups are covered by the generic term Gypsy, Roma and Traveller: English and Welsh Gypsies, Irish and Scottish Travellers, showmen (fairground people) and circus people, bargees (occupational boat dwellers) and New Travellers. Most of these communities have a long tradition of a travelling lifestyle, although their history and customs vary.

For more information about the history and culture of Gypsy and Traveller communities and for information and advice for Gypsies and Travellers please visit the Friends, Families and Travellers website. FFT are the only national charity that works on behalf of all Gypsies, Travellers and Roma regardless of ethnicity, culture or background.

  1. Gypsies and Travellers in South Somerset

    We have 3 permanent Gypsy and Traveller sites. Chubbards Cross in Ilton has 6 pitches and Marsh Lane in Tintinhull has 8 pitches. We also have a small site near Pitney.

    All 3 sites are managed on our behalf by Elim Housing. An application form to be considered for a pitch is available online.

    When it comes to private Gypsy sites, we will give full and fair consideration to proposals, and will apply planning policy and enforce planning controls fairly and firmly. We’ll safeguard and defend the local environment, local facilities and services from issues flowing from unlawful and unplanned Gypsy and Traveller encampments and developments.

  2. Somerset Gypsy and Traveller Forum

    In Somerset, the public authorities (local authorities, Police, Fire and Rescue, Public Health) engage with representatives of the Gypsy and Traveller communities through the Somerset Gypsy and Traveller Forum.

    The Forum is administered by the Somerset Equality Officers Group (SEOG) comprising the equality officers of Somerset County Council and Mendip, Sedgemoor, South Somerset and Taunton Deane District Councils.

    To discuss issues relating to Gypsy and Travellers in other district council areas in Somerset, contact:

  3. Education

    Locally, 'Support Services for Education' are able to provide face-to-face cultural competency training to local organisations including schools. To discuss this, contact the team directly at childrens@somerset.gov.uk or 0300 123 2224.

  4. Health and wellbeing

    For information and resources on keeping healthy please visit the local public health website.

    Gypsy and Travellers do not need an address ID in order to register with a GP. A recent letter from the Secretary of State for Health clearly states that being unable to provide an address ID is not grounds for refusing registration.

    If you are experiencing difficulties accessing GP Surgeries, 'friends, family and travellers' have produced a 'health help card'.

    For information on the services provided by the County Council's Adult Social Care service, visit their social care page.

    For more information on local care and the range of services available to help you choose the right care and support for you and your family, visit Somerset Choices.

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