Irish Chaplaincy in Britain

Irish Chaplaincy in Britain

Gypsies and Travellers are perhaps the most excluded and disadvantaged ethnic minority groups in Britain today. Government research revealing low literacy levels, poor school attainment, shorter life expectancy and higher infant mortality rates paint a depressing picture of communities with significantly worse life chances than the rest of society. Underpinning many of the disadvantages which Travellers face is the national shortage of Traveller sites. 25% of the UK’s Gypsies and Travellers are officially categorised as homeless due to insufficient legal sites for them to settle on.

What Our Project Does:

The ICB Traveller Equality Project works to improve the situation of Travellers in the justice system in England and Wales. Gypsies and Travellers make up around 5% of the prison population in England and Wales. In 2008, the National Offender Management Service's Race Review noted that:

“particular concerns relating to Gypsy Traveller Roma prisoners included: difficulties accessing services, including offender behaviour programmes, as the literacy level required was too high… and lack of cultural awareness and understanding of staff.”

In 2010, The Irish Chaplaincy launched the ‘Voices Unheard’ research project to look at the experiences of Travellers in prison. Key findings from the research, published in June 2011, were that:
• A lack of monitoring had led to a failure to formulate or implement measures to ensure equality of opportunity for this prisoner group.
• 59.3 % of Traveller prisoners were identified as requiring basic educational intervention.
• Travellers in prison were commonly subjected to racist treatment from other prisoners and from some staff.

Since 2011, the National Offender Management Service has made concerted efforts to engage more with the Travellers in prison. Many prisons now hold Traveller Groups, appoint Traveller Reps and hold Traveller History Month events in an effort to promote inclusion. However there is still much work to be done to improve Travellers' access to crucial rehabilitation services.

The Traveller Equality Project works in collaboration with the National Offender Management Service, Probation Service and Crown Prosecution Service to advocate on behalf of Gypsies and Travellers. We provide information and advice and produce free resources for practitioners working with Travellers. We also deliver diversity training and provide a consultation service.

Aside from our work in prisons, the Traveller Equality Project continues to campaign on issues affecting Travellers and Gypsies nationally, particularly in relation to discrimination, planning law and site provision. In 2011 we were involved in the much publicised campaign to save the Dale Farm Travellers site in Basildon, Essex. Dale Farm was not a unique case; every year up and down the country local authorities spend millions evicting Travellers from unauthorised sites. But with a national shortfall of some 4000 legal pitches, moving Travellers on only leads to a continuous, costly cycle of eviction and further unauthorised development. Evictions without alternative provision of sites solve nothing and simply add to the marginalisation and exclusion of this community.

For more information call 020 7482 5528 or


Irish Chaplaincy in Britain
United Kingdom