Ministry to Gypsies, Travellers and Roma People

Published: March 2, 2021

Message from Bishop Robert

Earlier this year, Canon Jonathan Herbert from the ‘Churches Network for Gypsies, Travellers and Roma’ people, and I, convened a small group of leaders from benefices where we are aware that there are permanent traveller sites. We wanted to reflect on how we might respond to a General Synod resolution committing the Church, nationally and in dioceses, to take a positive stand in protecting the rights of these communities.

It was a helpful and informative meeting and we would like to take our conversation forward and offer some training to help us all in our engagement. However we were also very aware of the need to begin this work with sensitivity. We want to ensure we are engaging with the community, not simply talking about them. We want to engage in a way that is informed by the needs they, not we, have identified.

As a first step, I would like to ask for your help in identifying the communities in our Diocese, recognising that while there are some permanent sites, many are informal or unofficial. If you have such a community in your benefice I would be enormously grateful if you could drop me an email at with the details, alongside a note of any contact you may have – though in most cases I suspect these will be minimal.

I would hope then, later in the year, we might host a gathering to reflect further on our ministry to and with this important but often neglected community.

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One thought on “Ministry to Gypsies, Travellers and Roma People

  1. Way back in the late 60,s and early 70.s I was working in community relations in Warwickshire. Because there was tension over applying the Caravan site Act of 1958 i took on the role of getting to know and building the trust of travelling families in Warwickshire. It was a county families passed through following work patterns.
    I started by visiting every family that lodged any where in the the county, and over a period got to know, eat with and listen to travelling families. Including all kinds of out of parish activites but it did work. and we had fun together baptisms in campsite puddles, bereavement discussions, visiting prisons., and out of diocese ministry. There was the need to work with parishes and local clergy had no real contact or understanding of the mistrust of the families and saw them as bringers of rubbish and trespass in the community. There are several different groups with little contact with one another. among the travellers, fairground communities, real gypsy groups and travelling Irish families to mention a few. Many of such groups have fixed centres for parts of the year at least. It is very rewarding work, but requires a lot of patience and persistence and time if there is going to be a real breakthrough . That was my experience in the Coventry Diocese then, for what its worth. Every blessing Owen

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