Creating space and place for Roma, Gypsies and Travellers: resolving conflict

Lead Research Organisation: De Montfort University
Department Name: BL Faculty Research Office


In the UK and Europe it is suggested that Gypsies, Travellers and Roma are being victimised and displaced. The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (2011) made recommendations to governments to foster multidisciplinary approaches, enhance mutual trust, train mediators in the community and combat anti-Gypsyism in public and other service provision. However, the eviction of Dale Farm, UK, in October 2011 demonstrated how far society is from realising such aims in the current social and political climate of conflict.

In this seminar series academics, practitioners, policy makers and community members, will come together to discuss cross-cutting, multi-disciplinary themes and ideas. The three seminars will look at:

  1. conflict in space and place (accommodation and planning issues)

  2. conflict in welfare and public service delivery (health, education, employment and social policy)

  3. conflict in representation (political and media discourse; analysis of conflict resolution approaches).

Whilst the seminar series is focused on Gypsies and Travellers, there will be ideas of relevance to other marginalised groups in society, and indeed other ‘wicked’ problems for local authorities in contentious planning and service delivery more generally.


Planned Impact

Who will benefit?
The seminar series will create impact and benefit for a number of different groups and individuals - beyond the academic sector. For this seminar series we expect to see Roma, Gypsy and Traveller community members, representative and voluntary organisations, policy makers, politicians and practitioners benefitting from the outcomes, including: The Gypsy Council, Friends, Families & Travellers, Irish Traveller Movement in Britain, Leeds Gypsy and Traveller Exchange, New Traveller Association, Roma Support Group, Somerset Community Land Trust, London Gypsy and Traveller Unit, National Federation of Gypsy Liaison Groups, Northern Network of Travelling Families, Ormiston Children and Families Trust, and the Travellers Aid Trust.

There is not one single Gypsy and Traveller representative group, which is why so many different organisations are listed above. There is a network of different groups representing a range of diverse interests. The complexity of Gypsy and Traveller representation means that individual Roma, Gypsies and Travellers respected by many in their communities are invited to participate. The Investigators, with key Gypsies and Travellers, will feed findings and ideas back to the range of different representative organisations for wider benefit.

Practitioner organisations will also benefit. The Chartered Institute of Housing has written a letter of support, as a partner organisation to the proposal, outlining how it will benefit from the seminars and what it will offer in return. The Royal Town Planning Institute has also shown support. On a policy level the All-Party Parliamentary Group is a partner organisation and has outlined in their letter how the seminars will inform their discussions at Westminster. Councillors in the Local Government Association Gypsy Working Group also anticipate benefits in participating.

European agencies can benefit both from participating in the seminars, but also from outputs and findings in the end report. For example Richardson was invited by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe to take part in a scholars meeting in Warsaw (2010) on media representation of Roma in Europe. This seminar series (particularly seminar three on media discourse) will report to Andrzeg Mirga (OSCE Contact Point for Roma and Sinti Issues) to feed further findings and ideas back into that debate.

How will they benefit?
The relevance and impact of this seminar series can be seen on an economic and societal basis. Briscoe (2007) reported that £18 million per annum is spent in Britain on clearing up unauthorised encampments, that figure can be increased for 2011 where an additional £18 million has reportedly been spent by Basildon council alone for one eviction of Dale Farm residents. It has been found (Richardson, 2007) that this expenditure on eviction makes a powerful economic case for providing sites. This seminar series can move the debate on from the academic into something practical and relevant for local politicians and practitioners with strong economic impact if future savings can be made through provision of sites rather than expenditure on eviction. Writing up good practice guides from the seminar findings and links to networks such as the CIH, RTPI and the Local Government Association Gypsy Working Group will help facilitate this.

Societal impact will result from the ideas of conflict resolution and restorative practice tools that can be used in a number of areas - planning and accommodation, health, education and media debate. The aim is to facilitate ways in which space can be found in the debate, and a physical place can be found to accommodate Gypsies and Travellers so that they can settle and improve their health, wellbeing and education outcomes. The societal impact does not just relate to Gypsies and Travellers but to the wider society if community cohesion and principles of 'Big Society' can be achieved.


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Description The findings from the seminar series project have been used to inform debates by the All Party Parliamentary Group Roma Gypsies and Travellers. It has also led to a 'listening exercise' in Leeds which in turn led to an evaluation project ongoing until 2017. The findings were also discussed with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation as part of their debates on future strategy of research at JRF and this led to a succesful bid under an open call (see further funding). Two journal articles have also been published, one specifically on the theme of the seminars which examined discourse, control and Gypsy/Travellers, but links were made to another project on co-production in research.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Policy & public services

Description Open Call (Project title: Co-producing conflict resolution methods for Gypsy and Traveller sites)
Amount £99,915 (GBP)
Funding ID 3286 
Organisation Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 09/2014 
End 08/2015
Description Evalution of Asset Based Community Development Project 
Organisation Leeds Gypsy and Traveller Exchange (Leeds GATE)
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Leeds Gypsy and Traveller have undertaken a project to use an asset based community development approach over three years, funded by the Lankelly Chase Foundation. I am leading an evaluation of the project.
Collaborator Contribution Funding for the evaluation.
Impact This is an ongoing project which will produce a final report in July 2017.
Start Year 2014