New charity project set to improve lives of roadside Gypsies and Travellers across the UK

28 October 2020

£2million in National Lottery funding has been awarded to ‘Roadside Futures’ which is a project that aims to improve the quality of life for nomadic Gypsies and Travellers and the communities in which they live across the UK.

Thousands of nomadic households in the UK live on unauthorised encampments or developments, largely because of the chronic shortage of sites and stopping places. These individuals and families face some of the most severe health inequalities and poor life outcomes amongst the UK population.

The Roadside Futures project will be delivered by Moving for Change which is a new venture, developed via a 12-month co-production process involving a wide range of Gypsy and Traveller civil society groups, communities and individuals from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Moving for Change aims to support and encourage collaboration between individuals and organisations in the UK who share a common purpose to improve the lives of nomadic Gypsy and Traveller people. Those with a common purpose are invited to join the Moving for Change network.

Members of the Moving for Change network will receive invites to apply for funding opportunities through Moving for Change, have the chance to join steering groups which oversee parts of the work of Moving for Change, have first access to up-to-date research findings from the work of Moving for Change and be invited to take part in training and capacity building activities.

At Friends, Families and Travellers, we are already working in partnership with Moving for Change. Moving for Change partners also include Leeds GATE, York Travellers Trust, London Gypsies and Travellers, Derbyshire Gypsy Liaison Group, Herts GATE, the National Federation of Gypsy Liaison Groups and Irish Community Care Merseyside.

The community-focussed Roadside Futures project, which has been funded by The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, aims to empower Gypsy and Traveller people to use their first-hand experience to positively change the systems and institutions which affect Gypsy and Traveller people’s lives and their interaction with the world around them.

Roadside Futures will provide opportunities for members of nomadic communities in the UK to develop and lead innovative projects which, informed by their own lived experience, have potential to improve the lives of Gypsies and Travellers across the UK.

The project has already been supporting Gypsy and Traveller communities across the UK responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, including supporting young Gypsy/Traveller families in Scotland access the internet whilst they were learning online at home during lockdown, and providing vulnerable families in Hertfordshire with tailor-made sanitation and care packs.

In addition, the ‘Roadside Futures’ project will deliver advice and advocacy services to members of Gypsy and Traveller communities and support members of Gypsy and Traveller communities to have their voices heard by a wide range of people and organisations, including politicians, policymakers and the media.

Responding to the news of the National Lottery funding, Violet Cannon, Chair of Moving for Change and Director of York Travellers Trust said:

“My hope is that ‘Moving for Change’ will see a shift from the divisive narratives which have surrounded roadside encampments for decades. That we can start not just a dialogue but real action which allows Gypsy and Traveller communities to carry out their centuries old traditions in a way that allows for happy and cohesive communities. Thanks to National Lottery funding, communities who can grow together and learn from each other, hopefully enriching all our lives.”

Responding to the news of the National Lottery funding, Helen Jones, member of the Moving for Change Board and CEO of Leeds GATE said:

“The launch today shows that Gypsy and Traveller people, their colleagues and friends, care enormously about securing the traditional nomadic ways and culture which have been part of the UK landscape for hundreds of years. Moving for Change will support Gypsies and Travellers, wherever they are in the UK, to make the case for preserving this important aspect of our shared history and culture, positively and in collaboration with their settled neighbours. We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to The National Lottery Community Fund for making this work possible.”

Cassie Robinson, Senior Head of UK Funding at The National Lottery Community Fund, said:

“National Lottery funding is for everyone and the Roadside Futures project will support and help improve the lives of roadside Gypsies and Travellers. Developed and led by lived experience, this project will empower people and communities to positively engage with the systems and institutions which affect their lives – all with people in the lead.”

TT News/MfC press release