Keep proper journalism alive. It's time to Back the Cable
The Bristol Cable

‘I’m an Irish Traveller. The government is attacking us at every angle’

The Home Office plans to criminalise trespass, a move campaigners say threatens Travellers’ way of life.

housing Bristol

It’s very difficult to know a Travellers’ way of life until you live it. I live in a house now but I’ve also lived at the side of the road. I know what it’s like to be moved on.

When you move into a property maybe late at night, it’s very difficult to get set up. You’re in a 14 foot caravan, you’ve got to make sure your kids are well looked after, and you don’t get a chance if bailiffs come. They’re not fed, you chuck everything into your caravan and you’re on the road again. You could be literally on the road for three days without stopping. I always fear for the younger women and their health because of these young children.

The bailiffs used to be very rude. When I lived in a caravan, we’d travel all night and barely get our heads down. It’s a very small space and you’ve got to make sure everything’s out the way before you can stop, so if anyone comes, you’ve got to get everything back into the caravan and the kids go in the car. It was very stressful.

One morning the bailiffs came and they were just banging down our doors, kicking and slamming and shouting so loudly that the kids were screaming. They were petrified. I came to the door with my baby and asked if I could feed him first. I needed to put water on, make him a few bottles. He just said: “You effing p*kies, get out of here, you’re not supposed to be stopping here.” And that was a bit of land at the side of the road, we never broke into anyone’s property, we just pulled over.

The government never carried out what they promised. They promised they’d make sites. Maybe a few sites were made, but certainly not enough to accommodate the amount of Travelling people. There’s still not enough sites for the younger generation that’s grown up, they’re pushed outside, they have nowhere to live, and it’s causing a lot of problems with their health.

Travellers get all the worst places that nobody wants. All the sites are so far from shops and schools and people, because they’re thinking of the settled people all the time, and the settled people don’t want the Travellers or the Gypsies next to them.

They are leaving us with nowhere to go

They need to make more sites, not offer people housing if they’re a Traveller. It’d be like asking a settled person to move onto a site. It’s not their way of living so many wouldn’t know how to cope with it. Now we have a lot of Travellers living in houses. I call them little birds trapped in a cage because that’s not their own choice, that’s not the way they want to live. They’re forced into it by there not being enough sites. They’re not allowed to make their own choices in life, what they want for their children and themselves.

Get our latest stories & essential Bristol news
sent to your inbox every Saturday morning

The government is attacking Travellers at every angle. Communication and trust is missing, because the Travellers don’t trust the government and the government is not communicating enough with the Travelling people. The government is not asking them what they want, they’re telling them what they’re going to give them. Before any laws are passed, they should get together and sit down and ask the Travelling people what they want, like they would any settled person.

They put up houses for other people so I think that Travellers are no different, they’re human beings, they have equal rights, they need to have everything everyone else has. They pay their taxes, most of them do work for themselves. Most of them want to move on and have their own traditional life. Why shouldn’t they have what they want?

The consultation on the government proposal to criminalise trespass is here and closes on 4 March. Advocacy charity, Friends Families and Travellers have got guidance on how to say no to plans to strengthen police powers here.

Join 2,500 Cable members redefining local media

Your support will help the Cable grow, deepening our connections in the city and investigating the issues that matter most in our communities.

Join now

What makes us different?

Comments

Report a comment. Comments are moderated according to our Comment Policy.

  • it should be mentioned the Pavee Travellers (AKA Irish Travellers) have been in the UK for over a millennium.
    The Closest point of Ireland (Ballycastle) to the UK (Mull of Kintyre) is a mere 12 miles (approx) a very short distance for ‘Travellers’ to Traverse.

    Reply

  • Jennifer Kunkle-Clark

    Dear Ellen,
    I find the Traveller’s traditional way of life fascinating. I’m so sorry that you face so much discrimination because it’s just not fair.

    Reply

  • How interesting. How do I receive further information about your long term plans and ambitions?
    Pat.

    Reply

  • This is terrible and alarming!! i just watched the Channel 5 documentary on The Dale Farm, in Essex, traveller eviction by Basildon council. Im almost speechless, but have a lot to say. Im not a traveller, i live in London, but from what i can see that is happening is like a kind of persecution towards travellers and their communities. Its appalling, and quite frankly wrong to treat people in such a way. I’m so upset about what I’ve seen & heard. i know many people are being evicted from rented homes in the last few years through the courts & have no where proper to go and live as we have a housing problem in the UK. There is something really unsavoury happening in our society against people who are powerless to do anything about it, specifically to do with having somewhere decent to live & settle.
    I’m going to be praying to God, mercy mercy. He’s the only one who can really help.

    Reply

  • Travellers should have to keep up to date accounts like everyone else….lf they don’t pay contributions, why should they expect anything in return…We have been too soft for too long….

    Reply

  • Dale Farm was abused, the excess caravans where essentially squatters. The reality is the original residents begged the extras to leave. They had enty of time.e and chose not to. If tenants being evicted from a building refused to leave, they too would be manhandled. Dale Farm was a land grab gone spectacularly wrong.

    Reply

  • Pakistani people, black people never received as much hate and discrimination as we do then we are told to live with the law of the land that in reality don’t include are way of life, for every good comments about travellers there are hundreds against, we all have to answer to god at the end of are lives, even Jesus Christ was a traveller of his father and look what happened to him, the mob is fickle and brain washed to hate as it’s easier than loving, people say Hitler was a monster but who created him ? It was his own people and their still out there today, just go on social media it’s full of monsters

    Reply

Post a comment

Mark if this comment is from the author of the article

By posting a comment you agree to our Comment Policy.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related content

Inclusive or exclusive: can community-led housing schemes provide for people most in need?

In recent years Bristol has seen the development of several new community-led housing schemes, which are often driven by small resident groups – but also aim to house people in need of a social home. How is the model working out – and with funds shrinking, does it have a future?

Bristol rogue landlord rented out room despite banning order, tenants say

Naomi Knapp was prohibited from renting out her properties to new tenants in 2022, but the Cable has uncovered evidence to suggest she brought in new tenants anyway.

‘I can do action’: cafe owner who organised tower block evacuation response aiming to be councillor

When she heard Barton House was being evacuated in November, Cafe Conscious owner Deniece Dixon got to work helping families who had become homeless. Two months on, she explains why she’s set her sights on City Hall

Exclusive: Banned rogue landlord under council investigation for listing properties on Airbnb

Holiday lettings firm removes listings after Cable investigation uncovers evidence showing Naomi Knapp's homes have been available to let on its website, via a third party.

Bristol raises £10k for Barton House residents in 48hrs

A Cable crowdfund to support the residents of Barton House is 1,200% funded - and counting.

Analysis: The national high-rise saga behind Barton House’s emergency evacuation

Housing journalist Peter Apps, who has written for years about Grenfell, explains how even the sudden collapse of a similar high rise block in London 50 years failed to spark enough action to make other towers safe.

Join our newsletter

Get the essential stories you won’t find anywhere else

Subscribe to the Cable newsletter to get our weekly round-up direct to your inbox every Saturday

Join our newsletter

Subscribe to the Cable newsletter

Get our latest stories & essential Bristol news
sent to your inbox every Saturday morning