Today, Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT) is launching the ‘Oak Project’, a partnership aimed at increasing site provision across England in line with the needs of Gypsy and Traveller people, funded by the Oak Foundation.
The Oak Project will begin on 13 June 2022 and will include London Gypsies & Travellers, National Policy Advisory Panel on Gypsy and Traveller Housing and the Housing Diversity Network. The 3-year partnership seeks to:
- Improve learning and understanding of Local Authority planning policy and practice on Gypsy & Traveller Accommodation and how issues can be addressed;
- Encourage the construction of Social Gypsy and Traveller sites in England through Housing Association development programmes;
- Strengthen Gypsy, Roma, Traveller civil society’s ability to advocate for substantial changes in planning practice and policy.
Currently, an unfavourable planning system and a chronic lack of adequate site provision means that around 10,000 people live on land without permission.
A shocking report released by FFT in 2021 found that at least 1696 households were on waiting lists for pitches on Traveller sites in England, with only 101 pitches available nationwide (permanent and transit).
Speaking about the partnership, Michelle Gavin, Business Development Manager at Friends, Families and Travellers said:
“The Oak Project presents an excellent opportunity to bring key stakeholders to the table, and bridge the gap between Gypsy, Roma, Traveller civil society and housing providers.
Thanks to the Oak Foundation, this 3-year partnership will help improve the supply and access to affordable homes for Gypsy and Travellers families.”
On the Oak Project, Ilinca Diaconescu, Policy and Campaigns Coordinator at London Gypsies & Travellers said:
“We look forward to this collaborative project as an opportunity to share learning and good practice from our policy work in London, and to explore more innovative approaches to the delivery of secure, suitable and affordable homes urgently needed by Gypsy and Traveller Londoners.”
Boris Worrall, Rooftop Group Chief Executive and Chair of the National Policy Advisory Panel on Gypsy and Traveller Housing stated:
“There is a huge shortage of social housing for Gypsy and Traveller communities and the Oak Project represents a unique opportunity to build on progress in recent years to get more councils and housing associations involved in providing high-quality homes for Romany Gypsy and Irish Traveller people and families.
Everyone needs a safe, secure and sustainable place to call home and this partnership will provide the support, advice and encouragement to meet the challenge ahead.”
Addressing the Oak Project, Jo Richardson, Professor of Housing and Social Research at De Montfort University said:
“My research for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, published in 2016, found a number of barriers and facilitators that need considering in Gypsy Traveller site management and provision.
It is really exciting to see this project, funded by the Oak Foundation, come to fruition now – by working together we can effect meaningful change and a home for all.”
Notes for Editor
About Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT)
Friends, Families and Travellers is a leading national charity that works to end racism and discrimination against Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people and to protect the right to pursue a nomadic way of life.
Sami McLaren, Communications & Campaigns Lead
Tel: 07436 228910 Email: [email protected]
‘Last on the list: An overview of unmet need for pitches on Traveller sites in England’. Friends, Families and Travellers. January 2021. View here.