Minutes of the South Somerset Gypsy and Traveller Forum Held on 10 October 2012 at Brympton Way
Councillor Jo Roundell Greene Jon Batty - Housing Policy and Performance Officer
Councillor Cathy Bakewell Councillor Paul Maxwell
Jo Morgan - Community Cohesion Officer Les Collett - Community Development Officer Tina Adams - Gypsy and Traveller Site and
Gabriel Munns – Mendip District Council Jenny Alvis – Mendip District Council Marilyn
Stella Arthur Hughes Snr
Emily McGuinness – Scrutiny Manager Colin Mike Toop – Devon and Somerset Fire and
Becky Britten – South Somerset Voluntary & Community Action
Steve Mason - People Can Martyn Ford - Somerset County Council
Julie Winrobe Lovey
Kay Pullen – Job Centre Plus Catherine Brennan – NHS Somerset Adrian Bromfield – Yeovil College
Apologies (Agenda Item 2)
Alison Cox - YMCA Homes Project Gwyneth Harwood – Children’s Society
Kevin Greenwood Lata Waters – People Can
Toni Lines - Avon and Somerset Constabulary Christian Wells - Avon and Somerset Constabulary
Mel Rowlands - Avon and Somerset Constabulary
Lee Walton – Planning Officer
Cassie Jones – Traveller Education Maggie Smith- Bendell – UK Association of Gypsy Women
Tracey Zimmerman – Yeovil College John Sanderson
Kelly Sanderson Henry Isaacs
Annie Crocker Malcolm Tipper – Somerset Skills and
1 Welcome and introductions
3 You said…… we did (Agenda Item 3) Actions from meeting 29 June 2012: You said – Invite Travellers Times (TT) to write an article of the Forum
We did - Mike Toop reported that as the Bridgwater Fair had been cancelled due to the weather, he had not been able to meet with TT.
Mike to contact Travellers Times and discuss the article on the Forum and report back at the next meeting
Mike Toop December 2012
You said – Attendance of new people to the Forum
It is important to include all Gypsies and Travellers, so try and encourage people to attend from the sites and offer a local Forum to the sites if they cannot attend
We did – Tina has been working closely with residents on the sites and a number have sent their apologies for today’s meeting. They hope to attend in December.
Tina is booking the bus to go to the sites and offer training opportunities. A site Forum meeting could be held at the same time.
Bus to be booked to go to the sites. Site Forum meeting to be arranged
Tina Adams December 2012
Adrian from Yeovil College explained that Apprenticeships can be a positive way of learning in a work placement. Many different types of courses are available and some do not need the learner to attend College. Learners can begin their Apprenticeship at any time as they run on a ‘roll on, roll off’ basis.
The Forum requested information on Dog Grooming courses
Adrian and Jo Morgan
4.1 Somerset Skills and Learning were unable to attend the meeting, however have sent some information on Chainsaw and Hedgelaying courses to be included in the Minutes:
Regarding Chain Saw courses - Somerset Rural Training offer a variety of courses usually over 2 days. The cost is £90 per day plus £20 registration
More details from: www.somerset-training.com/trainin_course/nptc_chainsaw Tree Care Training Services are based in Bruton and offer a range of provision More details from: www.treecaretrainingservices.co.uk
4.2 DVD update
Jo Morgan and Jon Batty went to Yeovil College to meet with Steve Braddick from the Media Department at Yeovil College. Yeovil College are very positive about this project and look forward to students being involved in working with the Forum to make a documentary film. This will begin in the New Year.
Kelly to contact members of the Forum to begin planning who will be interviewed
Kelly December 2012
5 Health Inequalities
Emily explained the Government funded project that SSDC has been asked to run on issues around maternity and access to health within Gypsy and Traveller communities. Some statistics show that there is a higher level of miscarriages, stillbirths and lower take up of neo-natal care and breast feeding from Gypsies and Travellers.
It has been suggested that a free ‘app’ for ‘Smartphones’ could provide important maternity and post pregnancy healthcare information.
Councillors Bakewell and Maxwell are involved in this project and were keen to find out the views of the Forum.
Views and Comments:
Within South Somerset we have a Gypsy site Liaison Manager who works with Health Visitors and residents on sites
There is good health care with residents on sites and within the settled community, everyone is registered with a GP
It is easy to get pre and post-natal care
The project needs to distinguish between Romany Gypsies and Irish/ Travellers
Some Travellers may have different views on pregnancy and maternity
It is a myth that women are unhealthy and drink and smoke too much, having children is a gift and it is important to be healthy
Transient Travellers are aware of current health care services and points of crisis
Being moved on all the time can affect people’s mental and emotional health
Issues for accessing health care often rest on whether groups are allowed to stay in an area through choice or because of work
Not everyone can read and some people find Smartphones difficult to access 6 Becky Britten - South Somerset Association for Voluntary and Community Action
Becky explained how SSVCA can provide support and assistance to groups wanting to set up projects, activities or setting up as an Association. An Association could form and apply for small grants e.g. play equipment for sites, specific training courses
Becky described a supported Volunteer Mentor Scheme that people could become involved in. This is a great way to gain work experience as well as a qualification and reference. Tina shared her experience of starting out as a volunteer with the Somerset Racial Equality Council and that led to her gaining permanent employment with the district Council.
Find out information on other Gypsy and Traveller Groups and Associations
Becky Britten December 2012
7 Employment – Kay Pullen Job centre Plus
Kay from the Job Centre Plus 18-24 Team, described the different opportunities available from her service area. The Team provides support to people in gaining employment and helps to overcome skills barriers.
A Job Seeker Project allocates an individual Case Worker to support people through an action plan.
The Yeovil office has 4 computers that are available and people can use them to apply for benefits, apply for jobs, and write CVs. Full support is available. There is also access to the Job Centre online
There are opportunities for people to undertake an 8 week work experience placement without losing benefits.
Maths and English support is available every Wednesday in the office Questions and Comments
The main problem particularly for Romany Gypsies is that of prejudice and discrimination
Once a potential employer knows a particular surname it is difficult to get a job as they make assumptions
A Forum member described how she had worked in the same job for the last 10 years but was made redundant and has struggled to find another job because of discrimination
Councillor Bakewell noted her concerns in relation to the negative experiences of Forum members
It was pointed out that many Gypsies do not wish to claim benefits, preferring to work and pay their taxes. This means that no support or assistance is available from Job Centre Plus as they can only work with people claiming benefits. This was seen by the Forum as a gap in the system.
Arrange for an Independent Advice and Guidance worker to attend the next Forum to explain what help is available to those who do not wish to claim benefits but need support in gaining employment or training
Jo Morgan December 2012
8 Update from Gypsy Site and Liason Officer – Tina Adams
Tina informed the Forum of First Aid training courses being offered to Gypsy and Traveller communities. The course covers basic emergency first Aid such as CPR, dealing with burns, what to do if a baby stops breathing etc. Tina is arranging to take this training to the sites using the bus. There was a positive response from the Forum who thought it was vey useful.
Swamp fever has been identified in Cornwall, Tina handed out leaflets to explain what to do.
The RSPCA have formed a good local links with the local Gypsy and Traveller
communities. The RSPCA can provide animal care – vaccinate and worm dogs and horses for a donation.
The Forum were informed about the changes to Council Tax Benefit and Tina is available to advise anyone who is affected.
Forum to be used to explain any key changes to Welfare Benefits e.g. Council Tax Support Scheme, Universal Credit
Specialist officers to be invited to the Forum as relevant
Tina Adams As relevant
9 Any Other Business
monoxide detectors to those residents living on private sites and to Travelling Showpeople.
Martin informed the Forum that the list of County Council land is not currently
available. However, if anyone identifies a piece of Council land they can ask County whether it is available or not.
New enforcement law was discussed. Failure to comply with a Stop notice could result in a £20,000 fine
Question was asked as to how often our sites are visited by Tina. The sites are visited 3 – 4 times per week.