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Working to improve the quality of life for Gypsies and Travellers

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Leeds GATE Blog

Housing and planning bill – This really does matter

Ben Chastney's picture
By Ben Chastney |  February 15, 2016 |

Buried amongst many other parts of the news, even for those who keep a relatively close eye on politics, is the importance of the Housing and Planning Bill currently working through Parliament.  Of particular concern is the proposed removal of obligations on Local Authorities to undertake specific Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Needs Assessments.  Whilst on the surface a dry and technical point, the potential implications of this Bill for Gypsy and Travellers really must be spelt out.

We raise this issue now as in the coming weeks a further opportunity to make important amendments arises, as the Bill is discussed in the Lords.  Unfortunately in previous discussions in the Commons various proposed changes were largely rejected, overlooked or watered down.  Sadly because there are so many other legitimate concerns with this bill, whether over social housing, rent rules or wider planning, serious flaws relating to Gypsies and Travellers are easily overlooked. 

So what is the problem with removing GTNAAs? 

 

 

Next article: "Screenings and Immunisations – Trust and communication in the health service"

Screenings and Immunisations – Trust and communication in the health service

Ben Chastney's picture
By Ben Chastney |  February 5, 2016 |

A recent meeting about screenings and immunisations got me thinking about the interaction of the health service with vulnerable people and groups.  Broadly speaking this was a useful event for all, both for those with a medical or community interest.  It does seem that we as a country are relatively strong in the uptake and coverage of immunisations against countless diseases and effective screening against various conditions.  There are exceptions however.

 

Notably, the gaps in take-up are most often those with certain characteristics, such as mental health difficulties, and come from vulnerable or isolated groups.  Other examples include asylum seekers, sex workers, children in local authority care and prisoners.  Despite the great variation amongst these people, the common theme is about engagement with the health service or rather the obstacles to this.  Put simply, those with less positive interaction with surgeries, health visitors, hospitals etc. are less likely to know about, understand, trust or in practice get access to immunisations or screenings. 

Next article: "Gypsies, Travellers, Police and Councils to talk Unauthorised Encampment."

Molly’s adventures with Travellers - Christmas Special 2

Ben Chastney's picture
By Ben Chastney |  December 18, 2015 |

Santa’s visit from the Ghost of Christmas Past. And friends.

It’s a week before Christmas and Santa is awoken in the middle of the night.

 Christmas 2
ILLUSTRATED BY PETER HUDSPITH

“Wooooooooooo”

Previous article: "Flooding: looking backwards and forwards"

Next article: "Fury over Fury: Thoughts on ‘the Gypsy King’"

Molly’s adventures with Travellers

Ben Chastney's picture
By Ben Chastney |  November 9, 2015 |

I have recently been writing a set of short stories, cartoon strip like in nature, which hopefully illustrate some injustices our members sadly often face.  It seems worth explaining the rationale behind it all.

Previous article: "Molly’s adventures with Travellers – Episode 1: A camp arrives"

Next article: "Boxer Jimmy is sharing his skills on site"

Minister Brandon Lewis to force Gypsy/Traveller families to ‘travel permanently’

Helen Jones's picture
By Helen Jones |  August 31, 2015 |

Permanently on the move?We hear today (31st August) via the Daily Mail of course, that Gypsies and Travellers will now have to prove they are ‘permanently travelling’ in order to qualify as ‘travellers’ for the purposes of planning law.  Its not a surprise, Eric Pickles and Brandon Lewis tried to bring in this policy in the dying days of the coalition. It was stopped the [roadside] n at the final moment by a Liberal MP who actually read what the Association of Chief Police Officers had to say on the matter.  Like ourselves and many others ACPO were against the idea on the basis that it will cause them a policing nightmare to have to deal with so many families having to take ‘permanently’ to the roadsides just in order to be able to continue living in caravans.  By this new definition many of the people living on Gypsy and Traveller sites across the country wont technically qualify to be there because they don’t travel permanently (the new guidance is rather vague about what is actually permanent but hint at at least a couple of months of the year being mobile).

Previous article: "Dementia in Gypsy and Traveller communities"

Next article: "Volunteering at Leeds GATE"

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