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Date: 29 March 2012

UNISON hopes new guide will Make a Difference in challenging Gypsy Traveller discrimination

UNISON Scotland has today (Thursday) launched a guide to raise awareness of the discrimination faced by Gypsy Travellers and to offer advice to its members on effectively engaging with these communities.

UNISON produced the booklet – Make a Difference! – in partnership with Gypsy Travellers. It is designed to challenge the prejudices surrounding the community, dispel some of the common myths and to provide occupational guidance for members who are most likely to engage with these communities.

The guide offers a series of practical steps to manage issues such as housing, health and education and how to meet the current needs and expectations of the Gypsy Traveller community. It includes useful background information on their culture and heritage and some of the key obstacles the community faces in accessing services.

Dave Watson, UNISON’s Scottish Organiser, said:
“We recognise that many of our members interface with the Gypsy Traveller community and many members are unaware of the issues facing the community and the legal framework.

“People are essential to the quality of service provided and it is vital that we support our members who deliver these services. We hope this guide will not only provide useful advice but also help highlight the very real problems that are routinely experienced by this community.”

Stephen Smellie, UNISON’s Vice Convener, said:
“The harassment and discrimination Scottish Gypsy Travellers face on a daily basis – including access to employment, justice and social care – is one of Scotland’s hidden shames.

“Everyone has a part to play in challenging racism and we hope that by exposing some of the key myths surrounding the Gypsy Traveller community, we can break down some of the barriers that exist and promote greater accessibility to services.” 


Note to editors

 1.     The booklet – Make a Difference! – will be distributed to members via local branches and is available online. To download a copy of the booklet please visit www.unison-scotland.org.uk/gypsytravellers

For more information contact:
Dave Watson, Scottish Organiser - 07958 122 409
Stephen Smellie, Vice Convener - 07740 096 864
Trisha Hamilton, Communications Officer - 0141 342 2877 or 07939 478 461