Gypsy and Traveller protest and pride at Parliament Square on 21st May

Gypsies and Travellers from all over the UK will be holding a rally on Parliament Square on Saturday 21st May to challenge new housing and planning laws that both redefine our ethnic identity and that seek to deny us a culturally appropriate home, and to make a stand for Gypsy and Traveller pride and empowerment and against racism and prejudice.

The rally, called ‘Dosta, Grinta, Enough!’*, will begin at 12 noon in Parliament Square, concluding with four organizers handing in a signed petition with over 5000 signatures into Downing street at 4pm.

The petition, created by the march organizers and hosted by 38 degrees, protests against new planning laws that are being introduced that redefine “gypsy status” to only classify those of us who ‘travel’ for work purposes, removing any cultural or ethnic dimension.

The new laws will also effectively end the slow but steady increase in private Traveller site developments in the face of a dire national shortage of pitches for Gypsies and Travellers.

This demonstration is lead and organized by Gypsy and Travellers with support from many of the Gypsy and Traveller NGO’s, who say they will also be sending delegates to the rally.

A spokesperson for the march organizers said:

“These new laws will will limit the development of new Gypsy and Traveller sites and potentially threaten those of us living on existing public or private legal Traveller sites”.

“Many of us will be forced back into the road either because we will be made homeless, or in order to ‘prove’ our ethnic identity and heritage to retain our homes”.

“The rally is a people’s march welcome to all of those who support our cause, with community speakers, singers and should be a fun day out for all the family.”

For more information and travel details, you can check the rally’s facebook page.

Petition and demonstration to support Gypsy status campaign


A campaign is growing to challenge the change in planning regulations which changes the planning definition of Traveller to those who have  a nomadic habit of life. Those who have permanently ceased to travel, to get their children educated, due to old age and ill-health, will lose the right to be considered as travellers.

ACERT encourages its members to sign the online petition and attend the national demonstration on 21st May 2016.

The petition was launched after a meeting between HertsGATE, The Gypsy Council, The Gypsy Roma Traveller Police Association and former UK Association of Gypsy Women campaigner Shay Clipson at the Traveller Movement office on the Holloway Road in London.

The government “believes it is fair that if someone has given up travelling permanently then applications for planning permission should be considered as they are for the settled community within national planning policy rather than Planning Policy for Traveller Sites.”

Families who have been forced into housing due to lack of appropriate provision and even the generation of young Travellers who have grown up on official sites, will be unable to claim pitches on sites or apply for planning permission for private site developments. While Gypsies, Roma and Travellers are still recognised under Equalities legislation, the change in the planning definition reminds us of the frequently heard denial of identity, “How can they be Travellers if they don’t travel.”

Last year, the Planning Officers Society (POS) raised concerns over the government’s plan in its response to the consultation on the proposals, warning the move could have unintended consequences.

This proposal is going to be very challenging to implement and assess at application or appeal stage,” the POS consultation response said. “A lot of local authority and inspectors’ time is going to be taken up debating whether a family are still travelling and therefore entitled to a pitch.”


ACERT campaigns to preserve Cambridgeshire Traveller Education

Rosemarie McCarthy, Chair of ACERT, has written to Ms Joanna Pallett, Head of Vulnerable Groups at Cambridgeshire County Council to make her aware of the serious impact of proposed cuts to Traveller Education provision. The service had already been cut back in 2010.

She wrote: “… these services have a crucial role in identifying and promoting ways of raising educational aspirations and attainment. Working alongside other staff, including home-school officers and school staff, they support increased parental involvement, help improve secondary transfer and reduce drop out rates, raise teacher and pupil expectations, break down barriers and encourage schools to provide a culturally relevant and affirming curriculum.

” Considerable numbers of Roma have arrived in the county in recent years and there is no evidence of a decline in the population of other Gypsy and Traveller groups. If anything, additional rather than reduced support is needed to support the achievement and inclusion in schools of these vulnerable and marginalised groups. We know that Cambridgeshire is facing huge reductions to its budget but it seems misguided that that the council is even considering any reduction in the very resources and personnel who have the most expertise, knowledge and experience to help in this period of acute social transition.

Many Traveller, Gypsy and Roma community members, including those serving on the ACERT executive committee, hold Traveller Education staff in high regard. For some of them, interventions by Traveller Education specialists have enabled them to break through the prejudice that is still rife in too many areas of our society. Leaving things to schools is often not enough when we are aiming to undo the effects on education of a long history of exclusion and discrimination.”

The cut will affect a high number of children across very many schools, including a growing number of Roma families who have experienced social exclusion in the countries from which the have come and are vulnerable to racism and prejudice in the UK. Families living on unauthorised and temporary camps, children who are excluded or drop-out of education are likely to have their human right to education undermined.

ACERT do not believe there has been adequate consultation with parents and families on the potentially adverse impact on their children’s education.

The expertise built up over the years by the staff of this service is in danger of being lost, and once lost it cannot be replaced. Evidence from across the country tells us that schools do not have the knowledge skills or capacity to fill the gap, whatever the government claims, and as a result, once again, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children lose out.

Advice and support for families facing exclusion from school



The Community Empowerment Network has asked ACERT to publicise their services amongst the Travelling communities.
Marc Lorenzi writes:

” I am concerned that year after year Traveler’s feature among the most
disproportionately excluded and under achieving groups however we don’t
receive referrals or enjoy any type of narrative with Travelling

This is a snapshot of what we can offer:

  • Support with young people at risk of exclusion
  • Free legal advice and representation
  • Exclusion appeals
  • Support with school reintegration
  • Advocacy training for practitioners. “

We’d be happy to receive feedback from any ACERT members who use this service.

Other information of ACERT’s exclusions campaign.