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Gypsies, Roma and Travellers

Gypsies, Roma and Travellers (GRT) are protected under the Equality Act 2010 as a minority ethnic group. They are often misunderstood and experience high levels of prejudice and inequality, and studies have documented issues concerning poor health, isolation and constant fear of eviction.

Travelling and staying in different locations can mean that they find it harder to access services, particularly those that require an address, such as medical and dental care, postal deliveries, children's education and steady employment.

Our guide to useful services for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Communities highlights services provided by Birmingham City Council and other agencies.

Traditional travelling groups have lived and travelled in Great Britain and Ireland for centuries. They include diverse groups such as Romany Gypsies, Irish Travellers and Scottish Gypsies and Travellers.

Like other minority ethnic groups Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities have their own languages, traditions and customs that guide their way of life and they are passed on through the generations. Within all groups cultural values are strong with emphasis on the extended family supporting each other.

It is important to recognise that there can be significant cultural and practical differences between the different groups. The main groups are:

  • Romany Gypsies, people who are thought to have originally migrated from India and arrived in the UK around the 16th Century. Romany is the word that Gypsy people in England and Wales apply to themselves hence the term Romany Gypsy
  • Scottish Gypsy Travellers, people recognised as a separate ethnic group in Scotland who have much in common with other travellers
  • Irish Travellers, a distinct group of people within the Irish community going back over a thousand years
  • Roma, the word Roma is used as a catch-all term for European ‘Gypsies’. There are several distinct groups of people who have come from Central and Eastern Europe
  • Show People, families with a tradition of living and working in travelling fairgrounds are covered under this heading that also includes people working in circuses.
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