About gypsies and travellers and services

Gypsies and travellers' need for local authority services

Q. What is the need for gypsies and travellers to be able to access health and social care services?

A. Long term limiting illness tends to be higher amongst the gypsies and traveller population than the rest of the general population. Research has shown that the life span of gypsies and travellers remains shorter than the settled community Access to and awareness of health and social care services remain important issues for gypsies and travellers.

Q. Can a travelling lifestyle impact on the education of gypsies and travellers' children?

A. It is reported that gypsies and travellers have the lowest educational results of any ethnic minority group. Attendance and the uptake of secondary education are particular concerns. Staff based in support for learning, learning and leisure services, link with schools attended by gypsies and traveller's children.

Q. Do gypsies and travellers suffer harassment and discrimination?

A. Gypsies and travellers have not always been accepted by the community that are not travellers. Within Europe and the UK they have experienced a long history of racism and being treated as 'outsiders'. A place to stay in safety and without pressure of having to move on remains a major issue for gypsies and travellers. These are also prevalent issues for gypsies and travellers living in mainstream housing. Some research cites that up to 80% of gypsies and travellers children have encountered some form of racial abuse at school (Journal of Research in Special Education Needs 5 (2) 2005)

Q. Do gypsies and travellers settle in housing?

A. Research shows many gypsies and travellers use mainstream housing as a winter base and that being housed doesn't necessarily mean that gypsies and travellers do not also have a traditional nomadic lifestyle. Other factors such as health, age and education also influence gypsies and travellers in their use of housing. Families have long connections with North Lanarkshire and many have now settled in the area. Currently the gypsies and travellers settled population is in the region of 140 families giving a total of between 450 - 500 gypsies and travellers in North Lanarkshire.

Q. What responsibility do council's have towards gypsies and travellers housing needs?

A. Local authorities are required to consider the accommodation needs of gypsies and travellers in their areas. The needs of gypsies and travellers should then be reflected in the preparation of local housing strategies. Scottish planning policy also advises that planning authorities should make appropriate provision for gypsies and travellers in their area through the identification of suitable locations for site provision and that they should set out policies for dealing with planning applications for small privately -owned sites. The needs of travelling show people should also be given consideration, as it should be recognised that their accommodation/housing needs may differ significantly from the gypsies and travellers population due to their lifestyle/culture.

Q. Are there any authorised sites for gypsies and travellers in North Lanarkshire?

A. Traditionally there are two kinds of sites provided for the gypsies and travelling community according to length of stay - transient and long stay. North Lanarkshire Council at one time had three sites at Mossend, Annathill and Plains. This gave a combined pitch total of 52. Two sites have since been closed leaving only one official site at Plains, which had capacity for 16 pitches. This particular site was a long term stay site and also had facilities for disabled gypsies and travellers. The site has not been in use for several years following low demand and major vandalism to the site which rendered it uninhabitable. A housing needs assessment is currently being undertaken to determine the extent of demand or need for further provision.

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