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Durham County Council

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Gypsies, Roma and Travellers


Gypsies, Roma and Travellers have a long established history as part of our community in County Durham. We have a duty to encourage race equality, eliminate discrimination and foster good relations.

We welcome different cultures within County Durham and seek to promote the contribution that Gypsies, Roma and Travellers make to society.

What is a Gypsy, Roma or Traveller?

The Housing Act 2004 definition is "Persons of nomadic habit of life whatever their race or origin, including such persons who on grounds only of their own or their family's or dependents' educational or health needs or old age have ceased to travel temporarily or permanently, and all other persons with a cultural tradition of nomadism and/or caravan dwelling.

This includes the minority ethnic groups known as Gypsies - whether English, Scottish or Welsh - and Irish Travellers; whether mobile, of limited mobility, or no longer living a nomadic way of life but living in housing or in caravans on public or private sites, and so-called 'new' Travellers, some of whom are second, third, even fourth generation Travellers and/or in some cases have Gypsy or Traveller ancestors or family.

Working with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities and settled communities within County Durham

We aim to meet the needs of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities who pass through the county, as well as working with local settled communities, councillors and key partners, to offer support and advice. Our key areas of work include the management of unauthorised encampments and awareness raising.

Gypsies, Roma and Travellers encampments

Partnership working

We work with other agencies to ensure a joined-up approach to working and sharing best practice and appropriate information. Our key partners include:

  • Developing Initiatives Supporting Communities (DISC): provides advice and support to improve access to services such as health, education and training, and increase knowledge and awareness of housing issues and welfare benefits. DISC works across council-owned sites, unauthorised encampments and also supports housed members of the community. 
  • The police to deliver excellent policing to inspire confidence in the people they serve by protecting neighbourhoods, tackling criminals and solving problems. 
  • Health services
  • Housing and commissioning services

Events/commemorations

Holocaust Memorial Day 

Holocaust Memorial Day is commemorated every year on 27 January. This year, we held a three day commemoration event between 25 and 27 January in County Hall. The commemoration included a 'Porrajmos' exhibition, which told the untold story of the Romany victims of Nazi persecution and supported this year's Holocaust Memorial Day Trust theme of 'How can life go on?'  Visitors lit LED candles of remembrance, viewed an authentic Roma recipe and provided pictures, poetry and thoughts for a 'Wall of Commemoration'.

Gypsy, Roma, Traveller History Month

Taking place every June, Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month celebrates 500 years of Gypsy and Traveller culture and history in the UK. The awareness month, recognised nationally for over five years, brings together local Gypsy and Traveller communities to ensure past traditions are remembered and continued for years to come.

Appleby Horse Fair

Appleby Horse Fair is an annual gathering of Gypsies and Travellers in the town of Appleby in Cumbria which takes place in the first week in June, from Thursday to the following Wednesday, but this is essentially a weekend event with the main days being the Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Appleby Fair is unique in Europe, attracting around 10,000 Gypsies and Travellers and over 30,000 visitors to the fair. County Durham is a key part of the route to Appleby with areas in Teesdale offering stopover points for people travelling to the fair. More information about the fair can be found on the official Appleby Horse Fair website.