COVID-19: Government reminds councils of their responsibilities to nomadic people

Today, the 12th November 2020, Minister for Communities Stephen Greenhalgh wrote to all local authorities in England to remind them of the support they can offer to people from nomadic communities to ensure their safety in light of the second national lockdown.

The letter highlights the important support offered by many local authorities to families living roadside during the first wave of COVID-19 in England. During this time, many local authorities responded to calls by Gypsy and Traveller charities and provided alternative sites, water, sanitation and refuse facilities people living in roadside camps.

Today’s letter from the Minister states that it is likely that similar local interventions and support will be needed once more over the coming months to ensure the safety of Gypsy and Traveller communities and to contain the spread of the virus.

In addition, the letter highlights that local authorities may want to reassess the support that is required in local areas for Gypsies and Travellers during the current national lockdown, to ensure public health advice can be followed.

While the letter addresses issues relating to water, sanitation and refuse collection, it does not address other important issues including a halt on evictions or access to testing for people living in roadside camps or on boats.

Responding to the news, Abbie Kirkby, Advice and Policy Manager at Friends, Families and Travellers said:

The needs of Gypsies and Travellers must not be overlooked during this pandemic. This letter sends a clear reminder from the Government to local authorities – Gypsies and Travellers living in caravans face particular difficulties during the COVID-19 crisis and must be supported. It’s an incredibly stressful time for many communities and families and worrying about access to water and sanitation, or not being able to self-isolate is just not something people should have to experience. Arranging temporary stopping places and amenities is easy to achieve particularly when it’s weighed against keeping our communities safe.”

Notes for Editor

About Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT)

Friends, Families and Travellers is a leading national charity that works on behalf of all Gypsies, Roma and Travellers regardless of ethnicity, culture or background.

Media Contact

Sami McLaren, Communications Officer

Tel: 07436 228910 Email: [email protected]

Relevant Resources

Letter from Minister for Communities to Chief Executives of Local Authorities in England, 12th November 2020. View here.

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