Homeless help for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities

You could be homeless if you:

If you live in a caravan, mobile home or boat

You're homeless if you do not have a legal place to park and stay, or moor your boat.

The council should help you to find you a suitable pitch or mooring if there is one in the area.

But they can offer a flat, house or other types of housing if there are no pitches or moorings.

Find out about moorings and continuous cruising if you live on a houseboat.

Gypsy and Traveller sites

There is a national shortage of permanent and transit pitches.

This is because housing and planning laws do not protect the nomadic way of life.

Most councils fail to plan properly for Gypsies and Travellers in their area.

This increases homelessness in travelling communities.

Some councils have Gypsy and Traveller liaison officers. It can help to speak to them before you make a homeless application.

Find a Gypsy and Traveller liaison officer on the Friends, Families and Travellers website.

Homeless help from the council

You can ask any council for help if you're homeless or could be in the next 8 weeks.

Emergency housing

The council must give you emergency housing if they think you might:

You meet the immigration conditions if you're a British or Irish citizen, have EU settled status or indefinite leave to remain. Many EU citizens with pre-settled status can also get help.

Check the rules for EU citizens after Brexit.

Emergency housing is for you and anyone who usually lives with you as part of your household.

The council can use B&B hotels as emergency housing but only if there is nothing else. You should not have to stay in a B&B for more than 6 weeks if you're a family with children.

Longer term options

The council must look at your housing needs carefully. For Gypsies and Travellers, this includes your cultural needs and way of life.

Tell the council if you would find it very difficult to live in some types of housing.

They must write a personal housing plan with steps to help you keep your home or find somewhere else to live.

If you're still homeless after 8 weeks, the council decide if they have a longer term duty to help. This is called the main housing duty.

You must have a priority need.

The council must accept that you're not intentionally homeless. This means homeless because of something you have done.

Many councils check if you have a local connection to the area. The council can still help if you do not have a local connection because you travel.

You can ask for a review of a homeless decision if the council say they cannot help.

If you're offered unsuitable housing

You can ask for a suitability review of any offer of temporary or longer term housing. This includes offers of a pitch or mooring.

You should accept the offer and then ask for a review. This will mean you still have somewhere to live if your review is not successful.

If you experience discrimination or racism

You might experience discrimination or racism from:

  • council staff

  • accommodation providers

  • other residents in temporary housing

  • neighbours

  • the police

Racism is wrong and discrimination can be legally challenged.

Example of indirect discrimination from a council

A council refuse to put a homeless Traveller family on the housing waiting list. They do this because they have not lived in the area for at least 2 years.

This policy could indirectly discriminate against Gypsies and Travellers as a racial group.

The family may have moved around because they are Travellers. They may have faced eviction from other areas because of the shortage of permanent and transit sites.

The policy makes it harder for them to get council housing than other ethnic groups. This is indirect discrimination.

A solicitor could help challenge discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.

You can also complain to the council yourself.

Friends, Families and Travellers website has more on reporting racism and discrimination.

Specialist advice and support

These charities offer specialist advice and support for Gypsy, Roma or Traveller communities.

Advice in other languages for Roma people

Advice on the EU settlement scheme for the Roma community
By phone or email
0330 223 5336
Email: roma.advice@settled.org.uk
Advice in Romanes and other community languages

Roma Support Group
For the Roma community in London
Advice in person or by phone
Appointments (Polski) 07903 883748
Appointments (Romanian) 07366 502575
Email: info@romasupportgroup.org.uk
Advice in Romanes and other community languages

Legal advice

Community Law Partnership Travellers Advice Team
0121 685 8595
Legal advice for Gypsies and Travellers living in caravans and for liveaboard boaters

National Bargee Travellers Association
Free membership for live aboard boaters
Advice, casework and campaigning for members' rights

Online advice and helplines

Friends, Families and Travellers
01273 234 777
Monday to Friday (except bank holidays), 10am to 4.30pm
Online advice and helpline for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities

The Traveller Movement
For Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities
Online information including health, family, education, LGBTQ+, hate crime and the police

Services in London

London Gypsies & Travellers
Accommodation and advocacy service for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller families living in houses, legal sites and unauthorised encampments in London
Campaigns focused on equality, inclusion and challenging discrimination

Lewisham Irish Community Centre
For Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities in Lewisham
Advice on homelessness, housing and benefits

Last updated: 12 January 2024

If you need to talk to someone, we'll do our best to help

Get help