Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

Sociology and Social Policy

Research Student: Shirley Barrett

Defending community and building bridges: Lessons from the Gypsy, Traveller and Roma community in the UK (East Anglia)

Very little is known about Gypsy, Traveller and Roma (G/T/R) community strategies for integration into main stream society. For example, how Gypsies, Travellers and Roma choose a particular geographical location to settle at when looking for a permanent residence (site or house) and what strategies are used to integrate into their neighborhood.  Even less is known about the success or otherwise of such endeavors.  This research will consist of an exploratory study with the wider G/T/R community as a whole (using a survey and focus groups) and then narrow down to concentrate on the experiences of up to four family cluster case studies (consisting of extended family groups who have been successful in settling into a neighborhood as well as families/households who have not settled, or where tensions exist with their non G/T/R sedentary) to explore the differences in approach and wider G/T/R community knowledge or effective integration practice.

Research Aims/Questions                                                                                

The aim of the research is to establish the main strategies of engagement with  mainstream societies used by  Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities on ‘settling’  and to assess the key elements of these strategies to identify which are successful and which aren’t.   Key questions which will be asked are:

  1. The opinions and views of NGOs and activities on the main approaches and barriers to integration for G/T/R seeking to settle
  2. Why did a family cluster/group decided on geographical location?
  3. What strategies did they use to integration into main stream society?
  4. The self-assessed outcomes of these strategies in terms of success or failure
  5. What they would do differently if looking to settle/set up a site in future.

Background

I am a mature student undertaking this research on a part-time bases.  I am from the Romany Gypsy community worked predominately in the charitable sector.

In 2012 I received the Sue Poole award  and BEM in the Queen’s Birthday list for advancing work with Gypsy and Travellers.

My previous studies include M.C.s in Community Development @ London Metropolitan University BA (Hons) in Business studies at Anglia Ruskin University.

What motivated me to undertake PhD study?

I was motivated to undertake a PhD because I felt that I would be able to advance the knowledge base around Gypsy and Travellers.  Also be a role module to other women in my community.

What makes me passionate about my subject?

I am from the Romany Gypsy community and I felt strongly that research should be undertaken which shows a positive contribution by the Gypsy, Traveller and Roma community in terms of integration and thus breaking down stereotypes.

What are my plans once I have completed my PhD?

Continue my work with Gypsy, Traveller and Roma.  Use my PhD to show others (practically females) that a community member that grew up on the side of the road can achieve. 

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