05 June 2024

June is Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month

Aberdeenshire Council is once more celebrating Gypsy Roma and Traveller History Month.

The history month, which was established in 2008, provides an opportunity to raise awareness of the recognised minority ethnic communities and celebrate their richness and contributions to society. 

Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller communities are widely considered to be among the most socially excluded and disadvantaged communities in the UK. 

The month of activity helps to address prejudice and stereotyping, as well as promoting the history, language, culture and heritage of the communities, helping to challenge myths. 

Gypsy/Travellers still face many disadvantages as a minority ethnic group. 

•    They still experience racism on a daily basis, and derogatory terms and language are still used against the community. 
•    They are among the poorest in society, falling far behind in every area including education, health and housing.
•    They will often hide their ethnicity because of the racism towards them. 
•    They suffer a lack of understanding about the Gypsy/Traveller culture and why they resort to setting up camps in unsuitable places.
•    Young Travellers are considered to be one of the groups most at risk of low attainment in education.
•    They are part of the history of Scotland and have contributed to it over many years and indeed still do.

Aberdeenshire Council has a dedicated Gypsy/Traveller Liaison Officer, whose role is to assist the Gypsy/Traveller community by providing signposting, support, and assistance to try to achieve positive outcomes for them.   

The theme of this year’s history month is ‘What does family mean to you?’
Family is of huge importance to Scottish Gypsy/Travellers, with many still travelling and/or living together as extended family units. This close-knit community provides great support, companionship, and protection for the Gypsy/Traveller population, and is not dependent on living a transient lifestyle. 

Even today, for many Gypsy/Traveller families, caring for relatives is not generally done out with the family, and it is still relatively rare to see an elderly Gypsy/Traveller in a care home or a child placed in a nursery. 

Often girls will leave school early (at least by mainstream education standards) in order to help with bringing up younger siblings and looking after the home. This is seen as preparation for marriage, and as older sisters leave to start their own married lives, younger ones will step-up and take on their duties until they start a marriage and family of their own. Contrary to frequent media depiction, Traveller communities value cleanliness and tidiness.

Close family ties also extend to work; with fathers, sons, brothers, and uncles often working together in a trade passed on through the generations. Boys also tend to leave school early to take up apprenticeships with their fathers. 
Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month events and resources

Aberdeenshire Council has arranged some face-to-face events with school pupils this year, involving storytellers.

Further information and resources around Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month is available on the Friends, Families & Travellers website

The Traveller Movement also has information about Gypsy Roma and Traveller History and Culture on its website. 

A presentation about some of the barriers faced by Gypsy/Travellers called 'Two Sides of the Same Story' can be found on the Mecopp website. 

Resources for schools

•    About travelling communities – STEP
•    Roads From The Past (short film)– Travellers' Times Online 
•    Teaching resources 
•    Explore Our Historic Buildings – Highland Folk Museum


•    The King and The Tailor by Jess Smith
•    The Lost Homework by Richard O’Neill
•    Polonius the Pit Pony by Richard O’Neill
•    Wee Bessie by David Pullar


•    The truth about life as young Scottish Traveller 
•    Gypsies, Roma, Travellers: An Animated History
•    Travellers Times: The Oldest Show on the Road
•    A Life Apart 

For further information, or if you have any questions, please contact: 

Gypsy/Traveller Liaison Officer Di Faithfull 
Strategic Housing Officer Liz Hamilton