Gypsy Travellers are a recognised ethnic group who consider the travelling lifestyle part of their ethnic identity and culture. Most Gypsy Travellers in North Lanarkshire are settled in our communities having left their travelling lives, sometimes because of health problems or to access services like education.
The term 'Gypsy Travellers' refers to specific groups, such as:
- Romany Gypsies
- Scottish, Irish, English, and Welsh Travellers
Gypsy/Travellers are recognised in Scotland as an ethnic group. They consider the travelling lifestyle part of their ethnic identity and culture. Some Gypsy Travellers still travel year-round, while some in the travelling community live in a house over winter and travel in their caravans the rest of the year.
Not everyone who identifies as a Gypsy Traveller is currently travelling. They might live in council or private housing or on a fixed permanent caravan site.
Other types of Travellers
There are other types of traveller, who are not considered Gypsy Travellers, such as:
- occupational travellers
- show people
- new age travellers
As a result of its central position in Scotland, North Lanarkshire has long been established as a traditional stopping place for Travelling Communities. Its position in relation to the motorway network gives easy access to surrounding local authority areas in Glasgow, the Forth Valley, West Lothian, East Dumbartonshire, and South Lanarkshire.
Whilst we currently do not have any permanent fixed traveller sites operated by us we often assist travellers on unauthorised encampments within North Lanarkshire. An unauthorised encampment is where a person or group camps (in vans, trailers, or any other moveable accommodation) on land that they do not own and where they do not have permission to stay. Our policy on managing these can be found here. We have a responsibility to balance the needs of the travelling community and the settled community in the area when managing these sites.
Many Gypsy/Travellers use mainstream housing as a winter base and being housed does not necessarily mean that Gypsy/Travellers do not also have a traditional mobile lifestyle. Other factors such as health, age, and education also influence decisions to use mainstream housing on a more permanent basis. Anyone over the age of 16 years is eligible to apply for council housing. More information on how to apply can be found here. For any other matters relating to a tenancy, the appropriate Housing locality should be contacted. A list of our offices can be found here.
Gypsy/Travellers and Services
The Scottish Government has produced an Action Plan to improve the lives of Gypsy Travellers. As a local authority we have a responsibility to implement these recommendations across our services, along with our partner agencies, to help and support Gypsy/Travellers.
Our aim to provide inclusive experiences for all Gypsy/Travellers.
Access to Housing
We aim to provide quality, affordable housing to people who need somewhere to live because they have no home or their current housing no longer suits their needs.
Our allocation policy sets out how we match the people who apply for our homes when they become available. To do this we follow a number of rules and guidelines to award priority. You must complete a Common Housing Register application form to let us know you want to be considered for housing. More information on applying for a home can be found here.
Access to health and social care services
Long-term limiting illness tends to be higher amongst the Gypsy/Traveller population than the rest of the general population. Research has shown that average lifespans remain shorter than settled communities. Access to and awareness of health and social care services remain important issues for Gypsy/ Traveller communities.
NHS Lanarkshire’s ‘Keep Well Team’ is a nurse-led service, which supports people from the Gypsy/Traveller community, across both North and South Lanarkshire. If you are a Gypsy/Traveller you require to contact the team, phone 01698 754260 or email the team email@example.com
Further information on ‘Keepwell’ can be found here.
Access to Education
It is reported that Gypsy/Traveller children and young people’s educational outcomes are among the lowest in Scotland. Attendance and the uptake of secondary education are particular areas of concern. Our staff within Education link in with schools where Gypsy/Traveller children and young people are in attendance, with a view of working toward our commitment of enabling all children to reach their full potential.
Further information can be found on the Scottish Government’s website regarding improving educational outcomes for children and young people from travelling cultures.
We have professional learning resources and support networks for all stages of learning and aimed at providing an inclusive and equitable experience for every child and young person. This means that our officers have the knowledge and skills to support Gypsy/Traveller pupils and their families to enable every learner to reach their full potential. For matters relating to inclusion, emails can be sent to our Inclusion Team mailbox at firstname.lastname@example.org
Access to Money Advice
Our Financial Inclusion Team can help with money advice and welfare benefits. The team includes a combination of debt advisers and welfare rights staff. If you are worried about debt or experiencing financial difficulties, our debt advisers can provide free, impartial and confidential advice. Further information can be found here
Access to Employment Opportunities
For information in relation to employment, Routes to Work can assist. They can:
- Undertake an initial telephone assessment to establish the most appropriate support
- Allocate a dedicated case worker to support your journey into employment
- Assist with advice and guidance, goal planning and job matching
- Access online training
- Access in-work support
Gypsy/Travellers have not always been accepted by non-traveller communities. 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 unless they wish to do so remains a major issue for Gypsy/ Travellers, even for Gypsy/Travellers living in mainstream housing
Gypsy/Travellers have their own values, customs, lifestyle, tradition, culture and language. The Equality Act recognises Gypsy/Travellers as a distinct ethnic group and places duties on local authorities to ensure that they take account of the needs of this group by advancing equality. The Equality Act 2010 protects people who are recognised as a distinct ethnic group from being discriminated against on the grounds of ethnicity.
Any behaviour that makes you feel distressed, alarmed or afraid, which violates your dignity or which creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment can be classed as harassment.
If harassment is motivated by racial, sexual or other prejudice, this is considered a ‘hate crime’ and should be reported to Police Scotland. More information on hate crime and how to report this can be found here.
We regularly consult with our tenants and residents on a wide variety of issues. If you are a Gypsy/Traveller, whether travelling or living within the settled community, and would be interested in becoming more involved in discussing issues experienced by Gypsy/Travellers please contact GTLO@northlan.gov.uk. This helps us to achieve a better understanding of the issues being experienced and for us to improve the services we deliver.
For any further advice or assistance please use the ‘contact us’ information.