Today, and as 2023 comes to a close, Friends, Families and Travellers has put together a brief overview of what we have done over the last year, and what we can look forward to.
We achieved a lot, both publicly and behind the scenes, so keep reading to find out just a few of our highlights!
Accessing Energy Grants
With Gypsy and Traveller families living in caravans and mobile homes at greater risk of fuel poverty, rising energy costs were at the forefront of our work in 2023. We worked with the Department of Energy to release two new energy grants for Gypsies and Travellers living on sites, and were previously excluded from government support, resulting in thousands of Gypsies and Travellers accessing much needed financial help.
While this was a huge win, families living on roadside camps and itinerant Boaters were still ineligible for support.
In response, we launched a campaign for people to write to their MPs calling for energy support grants to be extended to everyone. 625 letters were sent and as of August 2023, our campaigning helped make support available to itinerant Boaters.
Research, partnerships, events and briefings
Throughout the year, we launched a series of briefings examining the barriers and inequalities Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people face across economic and financial exclusion, maternal health, suicide, education and race hate and prejudice.
Supported by FFT, a national survey led by the Centre of Dynamics exposed the racism and discrimination Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people face and a YouGov survey highlighted the prejudice Gypsy and Traveller face in the UK.
For Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month (GRTHM) our theme “Weaving Journeys: A celebration of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller lives, histories and cultures” looked at patterns of travel across the different communities. To celebrate, we provided a range of resources for schools, prisons and individuals.
As part of the Oak Project, a 3 year partnership to increase Gypsy and Traveller site provision, we launched a landmark report looking at the planning system’s approach to Gypsy and Traveller sites over the past six decades.
In other news, the Supreme Court ruled that wide injunctions have a negative impact on the ability to pursue the nomadic way of life and provided further guidance on usage to local authorities, further limiting their use.
Ending the year on a high, our supporters helped us provide food, toys and gas bottles to over 50 families, offering much-needed respite during the Christmas period.
Looking ahead to next year, we’re excited to:
- Honour the achievements of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people at the FFT Awards 2024 (you can make your nominations here!);
- Provide essential resources for Gypsy Roma and Traveller History Month;
- Starting our Young People Employment programme, to support FFT’s work towards helping young people’s transition into education, training or employment;
- Continue providing essential advocacy, casework and support for Gypsy and Traveller people in Sussex and nationally, through our Helpline;
- Expanding our work in schools across Sussex through our RSPH programme, and helping raise young Gypsy and Traveller people’s aspirations; and
- Coordinating and solidifying our efforts towards ensuring Gypsy and Traveller communities are added to the NHS Data Dictionary.
If you want to stay up to date or take part in our work, sign up here.
In the meantime, we wish everyone a restful break and happy holidays!
*Photo taken by Eszter Halasi, a young Roma photographer, at our Stoneywish 2023 event