Gypsies & Travellers   

Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities have historically faced significant challenges in accessing adequate accommodation that meets their cultural needs. This lack of suitable accommodation can lead to a range of issues, including poor health outcomes, limited educational opportunities, and social exclusion. As a result, addressing these accommodation disparities is vital for promoting social cohesion and ensuring the well-being and development of these communities.  


How does this link to Anti-racist Wales Action Plan?  

ARWAP has a goal to recognise that safe, culturally appropriate accommodation is necessary for individuals to flourish in other parts of their lives and to address the lack of site provision and poor quality of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller accommodation in Wales.  To view all actions set out for Gypsy & Traveller communities in ARWAP click here

 What you need to know  

  • Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities have rich and diverse history and culture with distinctive ways of life and traditions yet awareness of Gypsy, Traveller and Roma cultures is low.   
  • Life expectancy for Gypsies and Travellers is up to 12 lower less than the general population.  
  • Roma migrants from Europe comprise a significant population in Wales with distinctive cultures and barriers including issues with obtaining settled status post-Brexit. European Roma people in Wales mainly originate from Czechia, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania.          
  • In Census 2021, 3550 people in Wales identified as Gypsy or Irish Travellers with 1843 people identifying as Roma. It is likely however that these statistics represent an undercount due to barriers with completing Census. You can view statistics for each local authority on our Census page here  
  • A quarter of Gypsy, Roma and Irish Travellers in Wales live in overcrowded accommodation compared to 3.8% of White British respondents who did not identify as Gypsy or Traveller (Census 2021).  
  • There is a significant shortage of permanent and transit sites. Despite legislative framework in Wales placing duties on local authorities to assess the need for sites and develop those where need exists, there has been very little progress with some families waiting as long as 20 years for a pitch.  
  • UK Government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 makes unauthorised encampments a criminal offence. Given the lack of sites, this will further marginalise Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.  
  • On 19 January 2023 there were 1,066 Gypsy and Traveller caravans and 142 sites reported in Wales. 
  • Anti-gypsyism is often referred to as the ‘last acceptable’ form of racism. Openly discriminatory behaviour against the community is still common.  


What you can do   

  • Combat discrimination: ddress discrimination and prejudice that Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities may face. Call out anti-gypsyism, challenge inappropriate and racist comments when these are made.  
  • Education and awareness: Promote cultural awareness, understanding and sensitivity in your teams to foster an understanding of the unique needs and cultural aspects of the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. Celebrate Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month (June). See resources below.  
  • Site planning engagement: Consultations on Gypsy, Roma and Traveller sites encounter strong opposition often driven by racist prejudice and stereotypes about the community. Engage with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities locally to ensure fair representation. Advise local councillors and politicians on their duties of non-discrimination.  
  • Increase provision and standards of sites: The Welsh government, local authorities, housing associations, and community representatives should work together to identify and address the specific needs of the Gypsy and Traveller communities.   
  • Housing associations: Sites are often developed by Local Authorities and there is a bigger role that housing associations can play. See this report from England outlining sites provided and managed by Housing Associations.   
  • Engage and co-produce: Involve Gypsy and Traveller communities in the decision-making process to ensure that their voices are heard, and their cultural preferences are respected.  Engage directly with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people to develop plans, consult and raise awareness. See resources below.   

Learn more

We are looking for more case studies on this topic. Can your organisation share your examples of working with Gypsy & Traveller communities? Contact 


A role for housing associations: 

This short guide shares some key lessons and strong examples to prompt more housing associations and local authorities to get involved in providing good quality sites for Gypsies and Travellers. Successful case studies feature sites provided by: Elim Housing, Rooftop Housing Group, Broadland Housing Group, Teign Housing and Cornwall Housing.