A very bad situation in Britain

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A very bad situation in Britain

Hannah Vickers writes about why Gypsies and Travellers are still evicted during the Covid-19 pandemic.


Relaxing at the Stow-on-the-Wold horse fair in the UK. Many Gypsies, Roma, and Travellers have no basic services during the Covid-19 pandemic. ADRIAN SHERRATT / ALAMY

Many Gypsies, Roma, and Travellers in Britain have no basic services, including water, during the Covid-19 pandemic. Charities gave safety warnings but some were evicted. There was an ‘eviction ban’ for tenants and mortgage holidays for home owners but the government did not have a plan for safe housing for travelling people during Covid-19. Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller (GRT) people already have the worst health and shortest lives of all ethnic groups in the UK. This means Covid-19 is most likely to affect them.

Abbie Kirkby is Advice and Policy Manager at Friends Families and Travellers (FFT). She says that in March 2020 they asked the government to make a clear plan on how nearly 100,000 nomadic people could self-isolate on unauthorized camps, Traveller sites, and boats. Wales and Scotland made plans to help but the Westminster government said nothing and travellers on camps are still moved. There are already very few sites and Covid-19 makes the situation more difficult.

‘It really is impossible to understand why during Covid-19 Gypsies and Travellers are still evicted,’ Kirkby says.

Friends Families and Travellers gave its own advice to GRT families who needed to self-isolate. They also asked the government to tell local councils to stop evictions during the Covid-19 shutdown and to give water, sanitation, and refuse collection for families who needed to self-isolate because of their health.

Kirkby says many families cannot look after themselves during Covid-19. ‘Some local authorities are helping Gypsies and Travellers. But others left families with no basic services like water and sanitation. This is a very bad situation in 21st-century Britain.’



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