On March 24th a letter was published from the Gypsy, Traveller and Boater community to the Secretary of State raising their concern at the lack of advice, information, and action from the government to support their communities during the Coronavirus outbreak.
The Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) community has been hit particularly hard by the Coronavirus lockdown and social distancing measures: a quarter of those in the GRT community are self-employed, around 3000 families have limited or no access to water and sanitation, and those in the funfair industry have seen their income vanish overnight.
After the controversial Channel 4 Dispatches programme on crime in the GRT community was aired on Thursday night last week and widely condemned by Traveller groups, DSC has put together a compilation of funding and resources available to the GRT community and charities to help them during the Coronavirus crisis.
GRT communities have, of course, been organising support amongst themselves during Covid-19 pandemic and the Traveller Movement has published a list of resources for the GRT community to help them access the support they need to navigate the new circumstances we are living in. Friends Families and Travellers have produced a guide on how to apply for a grant under the government’s new Self-employment Income Support Scheme. A quarter of people in the GRT community are self-employed, a group of workers who were initially left out of the government’s furloughing scheme, making the introduction of the financial support for the self-employed people vital for Gypsies and Travellers.
In addition to the work done by the GRT community themselves, DSC has been looking into any other possible sources of funding that may be available to help Gypsy and Traveller groups and charities during this time.
The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation who has previously funded The Traveller Movement has opened up an additional £14 million of funding available to charities they have previously worked with. The Foundation will be contacting charities that are eligible.
The Allen Lane Foundation is a grant making charity providing funding for UK charities working with vulnerable groups such as asylum-seekers, offenders and ex-offenders, people experiencing violence or abuse, and people in Traveller or Gypsy communities. The Foundation funds Gypsy and Traveller groups, as well as organisations that work directly with, or support them. They are keen to fund work that raises awareness of issues such as discrimination and hate crimes against those in the GRT community and the lack of adequate service provision for those in the community.
In a statement on Covid-19 on their website, the Allen Lane Foundation has signed the London Funders pledge, committing them to a flexible and helpful approach to grantees during this time and is encouraging grant recipients and applicants to get in touch via email to discuss their project or application.
The Foundation has made no reference to any emergency funding becoming available in response to Covid-19. However, they process their applications continuously and their website is very encouraging to applications from Gypsy and Traveller communities, so it may be possible to get funding now.
A few grant giving charities had stated that they do wish to fund GRT groups and charities but have not issued any statements about the status of their funding in light of the Coronavirus pandemic. Both The Odin Charitable Trust and The Woodward Charitable Trust list GRT communities as their beneficiaries, and groups looking for funding should contact them directly with any funding proposals they may have.
The Covid-19 pandemic has turned the world upside-down for everyone, but those already marginalised from mainstream society will undoubtedly be hardest hit by such an upheaval of social norms and regulations. With limited resources available to the sector at present, and even less for lower profile or less understood charities such as those supporting the GRT community, it seems likely that Covid-19 is going to have a devastating effect on vulnerable members of society.
DSC continues its fight, along with the rest of the charity sector, to increase understanding among politicians and other decision makers of the critical importance of charities, not just to their own beneficiaries, but to society as a whole.