Engaging with Gypsy Travellers in Kinross-shire

Supporting a minority group to build links

Engaging with Gypsy Travellers in Kinross-shire

Led by: Perth and Kinross Council

Community Capacity Building worker and Adult Learning worker

 

Summary

CLD workers got in touch with an almost invisible population of Gypsy Travellers who were not getting access to services and opportunities. They worked with people to identify their own issues. Participation in learning and other activities has increased and a group that is looking outwards to the wider community and engaging with national issues is being built.

Background

Although Kinross-shire as a whole is a relatively affluent area, the Perth and Kinross Community Plan and the Work Plan for the CLD service encourage services to reach out to marginalised, socially excluded groups. Workers saw that there were Gypsy Travellers’ caravans in the area, but had no contact with the residents. They established that this community was not accessing any of the services available to them.

The Loch Leven Community Campus was opened in 2010. As well as Kinross High School it includes library, museum, sports, art, drama and other facilities. The CLD service’s local Community Capacity Building (CCB) worker is based there and part of her remit is to promote wider use of the campus.

The Kinross-shire area in fact has several traveller sites. There are no recreational, play or educational facilities on any of the sites, which are in difficult to access locations with no bus stops or pathways. The traveller community places a high value on literacy, but young travellers aged 11 – 15 years often do not attend school or learning activities, other than those provided by the family and peers.

Actions taken

A CCB worker and an Adult Learning worker spoke initially to the site manager of one site, who was happy for them to make contacts. No-one had previously talked to the travellers about the services available.  The workers also met with key partners to investigate possible opportunities to engage people. They went on to identify and include all the local sites.

The workers made regular visits to the sites to establish and build relationships and to provide information about services, events and activities in the area.  From the very early stages of engagement travellers proved receptive to the support on offer, as well as discussing the issues they would like to address. Issues identified by the travellers included:  services to provide learning for children not enrolled in school, education on site for children, information about college courses for teenagers, outdoor safe play areas for children, support with Driving Theory, and a need for a safe bus stop.

Whilst engagement on the sites continued regularly, traveller only activities were organised at the Campus. Transport from all sites to the campus, lunches and crèche were provided.  Workers from CLD, including Youth Workers, and from the Minority Ethnic Carers and Parents Project (MECOPP) promoted activities. Gypsy travellers increasingly contributed to developing and planning the activities for women, children and young people.

  • Easter and summer holiday programme:  health visitors, therapies, art activities, access to laptops, museum, cookery, therapies, arts and crafts, sport
  • A Family Literacy Group: presently working toward the achievement of an ASDAN[1] qualification in Values, Culture and Beliefs 
  •  Literacy provision for young girls, where they have written about their culture
  • A family photography project which has enabled participants to display photos about their lives to a Perth and Kinross wide  travellers’ gathering
  • CV writing with young people
  • Visit to the Scottish parliament to give evidence.