GYPSY ROMA TRAVELLERS

BRISTOL’S GRT INTER-AGENCY TEAM AS AN ORGANISATION

The Gypsy, Roma, Traveller (GRT) Inter-agency Team based in Bristol and has over 14 years’ experience in working with ethnic Travellers as well as other travelling groups across the wider Bristol area.

It provides comprehensive and effective community-based support to both ethnic Travellers (i.e. Romany English Gypsies, Eastern European Roma and Irish Travellers) as well as other occupational Travellers (e.g. Showpeople, Circus People, New Travellers and Boat Dwellers) through targeted outreach that helps build bridges into mainstream services, promote community cohesion and resilience.

The GRT Team is the leading community-based organisation in Bristol, traditionally using cultural celebrations, art and education as a vehicle for advocacy and empowerment amongst Gypsy, Roma, Travellers and other Travelling groups.

Bristol City Council’s Gypsy, Roma, Traveller (GRT) Team. This is compiled of two designated members of staff, a Service Coordinator and Site Manager / Community Liaison Officer.

  • GRT Specialist Health Visitor supports Bristol’s nomadic families and acts as the lead Health Visitor for other four Health Visitors who are co-located in our children’s centres providing the GRT drop-in service. The age remit of the Specialist Health Visitors (i.e. which is normally 0 – 4 years) has been expanded to include children of all ages in order to effectively support the health needs of our GRT families both nomadic and settled. Bristol’s GRT Specialist Health Visitors also provides free cultural awareness training around the health needs of the GRT community.
  • Youth Educational Service (YES) is an alternative education and youth service who provides the GRT Inter-agency Team with subsidised cultural-specific tutoring for our nomadic families (i.e. unauthorised encampments) as well as elected home educated families.
  • Early year practitioners are like Early Help Key Workers linking families to other agencies in much the same way that other Key Workers bring together health, social care and other agencies to support the integration of children’s services (and is at the heart of Bristol’s Children and Families Partnership Strategy). Early Help provision for GRTs is provided through the children’s centres drop-in. 1
  • The relationship children’s centres have established trust which in turn enables a shared understanding to emerge, thus reducing the likelihood of a clash of expectations and priorities (which would not be supportive for the child). Relationships of trust are more likely to develop into partnerships with parents which are fostered by the drop-in and community outreach sessions with GRT families.
  • Stand Against Racism and Inequalities (SARI) contribute to the GRT Team by providing a (part-time) dedicated Community Development Officer. The Community Development Officer works our four local drop-ins in supporting GRTs, identifying needs and raise awareness of services and signposting families.
  • The Wellspring’s Healthy Living Centre deliver our Roma Support Service. This service entails a dedicated (part-time) Roma Support Service Community Engagement Officer in offering our local Romanian-speaking Roma cultural sensitive support and outreach activities.

All of the support above is delivered by our four local children’s centres that specialise in GRT community-support and provide a weekly drop-in service.

The four children’s centres providing the GRT Drop-ins are:

  • Compass Point Children’s Centre in South Bristol
  • The Limes Children’s Centre in East Central
  • Upper Horfield Children’s Centre in North Bristol
  • Longcross Specialist Family and Children’s Centre.

This inter-agency Team has a statutory duty to improve GRT outcomes. This is achieved by adopting city-wide objectives in addressing the needs and priorities of the GRT communities. This better co-ordinated approach means that significantly more GRT children and families will receive the right help, in the right place, at the right time.

What we do:

The communities play a part in informing the service design and delivery. Community priorities, concerns and needs are reflected in what services are offered. Consultations are captured on a quarterly basis and are also used in evaluating and informing commissioning, service provision and accessibility of other services relevant to GRTs. Community events provide opportunities to receive regular feedback from our stakeholders and are one way we evaluate the effectiveness of all our projects and partnerships.

The service also supports individuals to become agents of change in both their own communities as well as wider society through a variety of different outreach activities (e.g. community-cohesion projects, Community Champions Groups operating in four local children’s centres across the city as well as our local GRT radio programme).

Downloads & Links

Free Training Opportunities:

Our Team also provides free and bespoke cultural awareness training. The offer of training is available to all mainstream-services, schools and/or members of the general public. The purse of the training is to foster a better understanding of GRT culture and people as well as improving service accessibility, relevance and cultural sensitivity.

We believe it is important to take a City wide approach when addressing the needs and priorities of the GRT community. Therefore, it is with an increased and shared understanding of GRT culture that we can begin to see an improvement in the life outcomes for these communities (particularly in regards to educational, health and social care). GRT Cultural Awareness Training provides an opportunity to become a part of a strong network of professionals who are confident and capable in supporting one of Bristol’s vulnerable and marginalised groups.

Professionals wishing to have more information about our five GRT drop-in centres and the support they offer please visit our website to view our Inter-agency Team Service Brochure.

  • We also have read-easy flyers which advertise our different drop-in centres. These can be accessed in one of two ways: either on our website or by using our responsive website (please see below for more information about the phone app).
  • The GRT Team also has a virtual Gypsy, Roma, Traveller Phone Directory which provides Travelling communities with a list of local service.

How does it work?  This is a responsive website which acts similar to a phone app. An individual can identify and access the service they need by navigating a series of images in narrowing their search criteria (e.g. whether it be health, education, social care, housing, police, legal aid and advocacy support, etc.) The virtual directory will provide a pictorial list of services within that category for the service user to choose from. Once the person has identified the type of service they require they have the option of selecting either the telephone icon to phone the service directly and arrange an appointment or activate the Satnav option in providing navigational assistance in locating that service. Both options are displayed underneath the service image.

Aim: The aim of the virtual directory is to make service more accessible in improving service uptake and engagement.

Bristol’s GRT Drop-ins are members of REYN.

REYN promotes anti-discrimination, respect for diversity and equality throughout professional practices and strives to ensure equity for Romani and Traveller families and children through access to high-quality Early Childhood Development (ECD) services and is part of and managed by International Step by Step Association (ISSA) in partnership with the Open Society Foundations’ Roma ‘Kopaçi’ Initiatives within the Early Childhood Program, London. 

REYN membership is free and there to support Roma as well as early years practitioners working with GRT children and families.

REYN aims to:

  • Support the development of skills and good practice.
  • Share knowledge drawn from experiences of working effectively with Romani families and young children.
  • Establish effective partnerships between Roma and other practitioners working with young Roma children.
  • Support professional development for those working with these marginalised and excluded groups.

Visit the REYN website