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What Makes A Home? Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month 2022

The legal right to lead a nomadic way of life must be actively supported.

Allison Hulmes, BASW Cymru National Director, reflects on Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month 2022

The theme of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month - #WhatMakesAHome has been especially poignant this year. 

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 (the Police Act) is in effect as of 28 June, creating a new offence under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 sections 60C to E. This new offence greatly increases eviction powers that will disproportionately affect Gypsy, Showmen and Traveller communities.

During this month, with colleagues from the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Social Work Association, we had the opportunity to deliver a workshop at the BASW national conference in Birmingham, and also to present a paper at the Joint University Social Work Education Council conference in Leeds. 

Each of these opportunities made it possible to educate our profession on the impact of the Police Act and to discuss what we, as a rights-based profession, need to continue to do, to stand alongside Gypsy, Traveller and Show people, caught out by this new criminal offence, through no fault of their own.

Allison Hulmes at BASW conference 2022

Good practice guide for social workers

Gypsies and Travellers are protected ethnic minorities under the Equalities Act 2010 and the legal right to lead a nomadic way of life must be actively supported.

The Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Social Work Association has developed a new rights-based Good Practice Guide with accompanying Welfare Enquiry forms, to support social workers (including others involved in undertaking welfare enquiries) who attend unauthorised encampments. 

This guidance is also aligned with our codes of ethics and values as a profession. We will be holding a round-table event on 21 July to introduce the Good Practice Guidance to key stakeholders and are making arrangements to pilot the Guide in local authorities in Wales and England.

We know that many Police forces don’t want to pursue a criminal justice approach and did not support the criminalisation of trespass - and we will work with these forces to adopt a welfare approach to the Police Act.

Police Act: Information & support for GRT communities

Any Gypsy or Traveller families needing legal advice and support in:

Wales – ring the free Travelling Ahead number 08088020025

England – Drive2Survive – 07903198022/07840979302

Showman’s Guild. Monday to Friday 9am-5pm. 01784 461805. Email: centraloffice@showmensguild.co.uk

  • Stay calm
  • Don’t raise your voice
  • Use your phone to record what’s happening

Friends, Families & Travellers (FFT) have produced guidance around the Police Act and its implications for GRT communities:

'The wheel cannot stop turning'

As Gypsies and Travellers, many of us use poetry as a medium to process the trauma passed down through our generations and further heaped upon in the present day. On June 28, on my way to a development day with my team, numb with the reality of this day, these words were in my head:

‘Today my heart stopped beating, although life around me continued.

Today my song stopped, although the birds returned their song.

Today my tears dried out, although the tide continued to rise.

Today I resolved to continue the fight because THE WHEEL CANNOT STOP TURNING’