Residents, businesses and organisations are being asked for their views on a new draft strategy aimed at improving the lives of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities in Cornwall.
A 12-week consultation on the draft Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Strategy opens today (Monday, January 29), with a copy of the strategy, including an easy read version, background information and a survey available to view on the Let’s Talk Cornwall website.
Carol Mould, Cornwall Council cabinet portfolio holder for neighbourhoods, said:
“The Council has a legal duty to ensure that Cornwall’s Gypsy, Roma and Traveller residents have equal access to services and facilities and are treated in the same way as the wider population.
“However, as numerous reports have shown, these communities often find it more difficult to obtain employment and access health and social care, housing, education and other public services. This has led to significantly worse health and living outcomes for these residents.”
Although race is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010, Traveller communities can also be subject to harassment and victimisation. A national survey carried out by Traveller Movement found that 91% of respondents had experienced discrimination and 77% had experienced hate speech or a hate crime.
Councillor Mould said:
“We want everyone to feel safe and a part of their local community and are committed to addressing these inequalities by transforming Gypsy and Traveller provision in Cornwall. This means working with partners to improve the lives and homes of local Traveller communities and provide better outcomes.”
According to the Census, about 80% of those that identify as Gypsy or Irish Traveller and Roma in Cornwall live in bricks and mortar types of homes and 20% live in a caravan or other mobile or temporary structure.
The Council – through Cornwall Housing - currently manages three residential Gypsy and Traveller sites – Boscarn Parc (32 pitches), Wheal Jewel (24 pitches) and Foredown Parc (10 pitches) - and the South Treviddo transit site (15 pitches), as well as providing a range of other Gypsy, Roma and Traveller services. There are also a number of private residential sites across Cornwall.
Councillor Mould said:
“We have been working with partners to better understand the needs of Gypsy and Traveller communities across Cornwall. This has resulted in the development of the draft strategy which will provide a cohesive and joined up approach for supporting and facilitating opportunities for Gypsies and Travellers in their daily lives and we now want to hear the views of all sections of our community on the plans."
The draft strategy, which will cover a five-year period, has been developed in consultation with a range of Cornwall Council services, including education, regulatory services, public health, and the Council’s neighbourhoods and housing teams. The project team have also liaised with a number of external partners, including TravellerSpace, GPs, midwives, professionals working with Gypsies and Travellers, NHS, Devon and Cornwall Police and Safer Cornwall.
The draft strategy covers four key areas:
- Celebrating Diversity – we recognise that there is a lack of knowledge and understanding of the culture and traditions of the Travellers and Gypsy community. We want to make Cornwall a welcoming place, where equality, freedom, fairness and opportunity are open to all.
- Equality of Opportunity - many of the inequalities which Gypsies, Roma and Travellers experience relate to their ethnicity or nomadic lifestyle. These include education and employment opportunities. We are committed to improving access for children and young people to education, training and employment and improving Cornwall’s productivity and wages championing an inclusive, regenerative and equitable economy and advancing race equality.
- Health and wellbeing – research shows that the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Communities experience worse health and wellbeing outcomes than the general population. Although they experience worse physical and mental health, they are less likely to receive effective and continuous healthcare and often encounter challenges in registering with a GP surgery without a fixed address. Our aim is to reduce health inequalities and improve mental wellbeing.
- Homes - we recognise that Gypsies, Roma and Travellers generally see travelling as part of their identity, although they can choose to live in different ways. Housing issues contribute to many of the inequalities that Gypsy and Traveller communities experience and are frequently a source of tensions between travelling and settled communities. We believe that everyone should live in a “decent home” and need to ensure that there is a wide choice of homes available for all including our Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.
The deadline for comments is 5pm on Friday, April 26. All feedback from the survey will then be analysed and used to shape the final strategy which is due to be considered by the Council’s Cabinet in July.