People and Projects

Voices Unheard: A Study of Irish Travellers in Prison
Conn Mac Gabhann
The Irish Chaplaincy in Britain (ICB)

The Irish Chaplaincy in Britain, (ICB), commissioned Voices Unheard in response to the needs of the Travelling community as identified by two of the Chaplaincy’s projects. The Travellers’ Project which works with the Travelling community in Britain has consistently highlighted the profound and systemic marginalisation of the Travelling community in Britain and has noted with grave concern the increasingly high levels of imprisonment amongst this community. The Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas, (ICPO), through its work across the prison estate, has recorded high levels of discrimination, distress, self-harm and isolation experienced by Irish Traveller prisoners as a result of prejudice and the community’s cultural distinctiveness. ICB was determined to address the issues faced by Irish Travellers in prison by establishing an accurate portrayal of their current situation through a methodologically robust research project.
Read more in the report
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Fire Safety Initiative 2009

In partnership with Devon & Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, the Trust distributed Carbon Monoxide detectors and fire alarms to Gypsies and Travellers in the South West of England along with a specially developed leaflet on fire safety for the Traveller community. The Trust funded 100 free Carbon Monoxide alarms as part of this project. The programme was launched at Glastonbury Festival where many Travellers work and at which the Trust has an information stall every year.

In partnership with Dorset and Sommerset Fire and Rescue Service,

Further fire awareness kits were distributed to sites and roadside encampments throughout the South West during the course of the summer. The distribution of 70 of the kits was monitored by the Trust and from the data collected it was found that the majority of alarms had gone to new Travellers. Of those monitored, eighteen beneficiaries had had direct experience of a fire and thirty eight were unaware of the dangers of Carbon Monoxide gas. Only seven beneficiaries had had grants from the Trust in the past. Although a follow up survey has not been carried out yet, the Trust is aware of one family who were woken in the night by their alarm due to a faulty gas refrigerator.


DIY Fund:

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Directory Of Gypsy & Traveller Groups, funded by the TAT’s DIY Fund, (2005 – 2007)

OverviewDIY Report

The Travellers Aid Trust is the only independent grant maker specifically dedicated to supporting the many Gypsy and Traveller communities in the UK. Although small by comparison to many mainstream grant makers, the Trust plays an important and vital role as a result of its knowledge of this marginalized and disadvantaged group and the proactive approach it adopts. Following five years of work supporting and promoting local, national and regional Gypsy and Traveller groups, the Trust is looking back over its work and the communities it has funded. This directory list those Gypsy and Traveller groups that have benefited directly from the support of the Travellers Aid Trust through the DIY Fund between 2005 and 2007. All groups listed are constituted.

This directory does not comprise a complete listing of Gypsy and Traveller groups in the UK and may not fully detail the current activities of the groups listed. The information given is taken directly from information supplied to the Trust by groups during application and/or monitoring processes and does not represent the views or opinions of the Trust. For fully up-to-date information, please contact groups directly.

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Background of the DIY Fund

At the time when the Travellers Aid Trust was being re-launched, Comic Relief commissioned a report entitled Evaluation of Comic Relief’s Special Initiative for Gypsies and Travellers 2003 exploring the difficulties experienced by Gypsy and Traveller groups in securing funding. While the Trust was developing and delivering targeted grants programmes to benefit individual Gypsies and Travellers, Comic Relief entered into a phase of dedicated funding to provide core grants to local, regional and national groups representing or working with Travellers. As part of this initiative, they also sought to support the Traveller Law Reform process which was emerging at that time. In October 2004, the Travellers Aid Trust was invited to become involved in the work being done by Comic Relief by facilitating and administering a grant to employ a Development Worker to support and develop the Traveller Law Reform Coalition – a shared platform for all Gypsies and Travellers to have a voice in lobbying for law reform. The Coalition eventually broke down in 2006 due to strong differences of opinion and two separate projects (The Traveller Law Reform Project and the National Federation of Gypsy Liaison Groups) evolved out of it to continue its work and are still running today.

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As a result of the increase in core support given to some of the larger and more established Gypsy and Traveller groups by Comic Relief (as well as by others such as the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, Allen Lane Foundation, the Tudor Trust and Big Lottery Fund outside of London and City Parochial and Bridge Trust in London), these organisations became better placed to support the many smaller emerging and struggling community groups that had started to spring up in the wake of the Coalition’s work, but which in turn were struggling for funding. As a result of consultation with the Coalition members and the Trust, Comic Relief launched a final targeted programme of small grants for Gypsies and Travellers in late 2004 to help start up or develop these smaller groups. Again, the Trust was asked to become directly involved and took over the programme during its first round of grants. This programme became known as the DIY Fund and has provided grants of up to £3,000 to groups with an income of under £50,000. The Trust added further funds in 2007-2008 from its own asset to provide bridging grants of £1,000 to groups previously funded by Comic Relief or through the DIY Fund which were still struggling. This programme is now closed.

September 2008

Download the Report as a PDF here

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Violet Clegg Fund

The Trustees remain very keen on ensuring that individual Travellers benefit from the Trust’s asset and this is achieved in part through The Violet Clegg Fund. This programme operates two main categories of grant, these being ‘Overcoming Hardship’ and ‘Community Benefit’. Awards of up to £250 are issued for applications that are of benefit to individual Travellers or the Traveller community.

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During 2008 a total of 69 applications were received. Of these 21 were refused and 48 approved. A total of £11,300 was awarded in grant payments with a typical grant of £250 which represents nearly £2000 more in awards than in 2007. Although less applications were received this year, nine more grants were awarded than in 2007 with fewer refusals. A total of £9,856 was paid out in grants during this financial year, the difference representing payments carried over from 2007 or not drawn down until 2009.

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As can be seen from the charts below, and as has been the trend in previous years, this year saw just under half of grants awarded to families with a slight increase in grants to individuals.

In relation to categories of grant, the largest percentage awarded remained to families in need, as has been the case historically with training and education for young people remaining as the second highest category. Two new categories were added this year which represent grants to support families experiencing loss of home and property through fire and supporting offenders and ex-offenders and their families.

Chart 2

While English Gypsies remain the community receiving the highest number of grants from the Trust, this year has seen significant changes from the last two years. There has been a decrease in the number of grants awarded to English Gypsies and a corresponding increase in grants to both Irish Travellers and Scottish Gypsy Travellers. Grants to new Travellers have remained unchanged.

Chart3

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The Traveller Law Reform Project (TLRP)

The Trust continues in its support of the Traveller law reform process through the administration of grants on behalf of the TLRP. In this capacity, a total of £25,000 was paid over to the project during the year. The TLRP is a broad based law reform project run through a steering group made up of Friends, Families and Travellers, the London Gypsy & Traveller Unit, the Irish Traveller Movement in Britain and the Gypsy Council. During 2008 the TLRP continued its parliamentary work and intervened in the development of Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessments and Regional Spatial Strategies. The project also continued to provide advice and administrative support to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Gypsy and Traveller Law Reform as well as maintaining co-operative contact with the department of Communities and Local Government and the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Planning consultant Steve Staines attended numerous consultations and other meetings on Gypsy and Traveller site provision in Regional Spatial Strategies and his views carried a lot of weight. Provisions which would have harmed Gypsies and Travellers were dropped from the Planning Bill after intervention by members of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Gypsy and Traveller Law Reform. For a full outline of the projects work, please go to www.travellerslaw.org.uk.