Building trust through involvement with the Gypsy and Traveller community in Wales
Gypsies and Travellers aren’t ‘hard to reach’ at all, they are ‘seldom reached’ groups and that’s the difference! (Welsh Assembly Government spokesperson).
In Wales, work is being done by the Welsh Assembly Government and by local authorities to increase the involvement of the Gypsy and Traveller community in the decision-making of public bodies. The work to encourage greater involvement by this community in Wales has highlighted that two significant barriers to greater involvement by this community are lack of trust and illiteracy.
Spending time with Gypsy and Traveller communities on site in a way that suited them was an effective strategy to change attitudes, increase trust and confidence and promote involvement. This approach can have the added benefit of increasing the confidence of communities to communicate effectively with officials such as those from the local authority.
At a local level, Gwynedd Council has encouraged council officers involved in working with the community to develop an awareness of the Romany, Irish and New Traveller culture, as well as an understanding of issues faced by Travelling Communities.
Because there are high levels of illiteracy, giving Gypsy and Travellers a hard copy of the strategy isn’t really going to work so we actually need to have one to one engagement with the members of the Gypsy Traveller community. (Welsh Assembly Government spokesperson)
To build capacity and overcome the barrier to involvement posed by high levels of illiteracy, a number of strategies were used. These included using the expertise of specialist and voluntary organisations to develop and deliver easy read versions of documents and speak to people about the issues. Capacity building was undertaken, for example by asking members of the community to work with their own communities to understand and discuss important issues. Steps were also taken to ensure that events were tailored to suit participants. For example, a range of single sex events and events for children and young people were held. The approach taken of national and local organisations working together can help to increase the benefits resulting, and it can save resources.
* Source: Case studies: Equality Impact Assessments [EHRC: 2013]