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3 November 2020

Friends, Families and Travellers

4 grants £64,669
To use law and human rights based approaches to tackle widespread discrimination and disadvantage experienced by Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities in the UK
Strengthening Civil Society

About the project

Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) communities experience discrimination in all areas of social and economic life, including accommodation, education, healthcare and employment, as well as experiencing racism and hate crime. Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT) was founded in 1994 and its mission is to end racism and discrimination against GRT communities and to protect the right to pursue a nomadic way of life.

The Foundation has supported FFT since 2017, awarding funding to build the capacity of FFT and other Gypsy, Roma and Traveller organisations to use human rights and the law to support Gypsies and Travellers. In 2020, FFT also successfully applied for short-term funding to address the additional inequality and disadvantage faced by GRT communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Abbie Kirkby

Advice and Policy Manager, Friends, Families and Travellers

When we first applied to the Foundation in 2017, we had reasonable knowledge of human rights law and good relationships with legal partners to whom we would sometimes refer cases.

However, with Baring Foundation funding, we wanted to increase and embed our understanding and ability to use human rights approaches and law in our processes as an organisation, give our staff time to engage in structured learning with expert partners, and to develop online support and resources we could share with other GRT organisations.

We delivered training to our caseworkers and other GRT organisations on areas of law that often affect GRT communities – for example housing and domestic violence, which is a repeat issue for the most vulnerable of our clients who were being unlawfully refused access to emergency accommodation. We have expanded our online advice pages with a range of resources.

We started to engage increasingly with UN mechanisms, drawing racism and discrimination against GRT communities in the UK to international attention and, with other GRT groups, building our capacity as a sector to use international human rights treaties and mechanisms to campaign for change.

This work has had impact and is becoming an increasingly important area of work and lever of change. For example:

  • in response to growing pressure, including from the UN Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, whose work FFT supported and promoted, the UK Government committed to a cross-departmental strategy which should be a crucial tool for improving the lives of GRT families;
  • following a joint submission of evidence with another GRT organisations to the UN Committee Against Torture on the extent of rate hate against GRT communities in the UK, we have been funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on a joint project to improve hate crime monitoring;
  • we have used international treaties and recommendations a number of times in our UK parliamentary work to raise our concerns about UK policy, including recently on trespass and on borough wide injunctions.

This funding has been influential in the way that we operate. Our new strategic plan has human legal and human rights based approaches clearly articulated and we plan to embed these even further. Our focus on human rights and the law has strengthened other areas of our work – for example, supporting our policy and campaigning work as well as our parliamentary activity. It has enabled us to develop new partnerships within the GRT sector and outside it.

Participant feedback

I found the training very useful, and three months on, I find myself often using the material provided to challenge housing decisions which are putting my clients at risk of homelessness. I definitely have more confidence in referring to specific parts of the law when advocating for my clients and this has improved the progress of a lot of my cases.

FFT training participant