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No light on horizon
11:43am Thursday 28th June 2012 in Letters
Sir – I thank Mr Stableford for replying with information about traveller services to the community. Sadly, it is hardly possible to reconcile the impression given by his reply with the authoritative, detailed report (2011) by the Irish Traveller Movement In Britain.
This report is directed to policy-makers in UK central government and to local authorities regarding health, education, social welfare, employment and the justice system.
It describes current aspects of the frictions and problems existing between the nomadic traveller community and the ‘settled’ communities, for whom the health, education, employment and social benefit services were set up.
I think Mr Stableford would agree when I say that I wish I could name a single European country, from Ireland in the west to Romania, which has succeeded in developing a constructive answer to the tensions between the itinerant and settled communities.
The ‘elephant in the room’ is the nomadic lifestyle chosen by traveller families.
One can understand their resistance to change, as this has been, and is, their way of life.
The report has a recurring theme of wishing to ameliorate their life conditions. It cites the privations of families — widespread poverty, low life-expectancy, high infant mortality, high and increasing unemployment, low educational attainment, illiteracy, untreated chronic ill-health in children and adults, untreated depression in parents linked with the uncertainties of daily nomadic life.
Internet reports regarding the traveller situation in Ireland give a similar, sad picture.
Is there a socially acceptable, sustainable answer to these challenges? I wish I could see a light on the horizon. The recent Localism Act will not help things.
J Williams, Oxford