Our Work with Friends, Families and Travellers supporting Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Communities

The past few years have seen a steady increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness across the country. While the causes of homelessness are complex and the numbers have been rising across all demographic groups, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities face additional barriers to suitable, safe and culturally appropriate housing. A report by Trust for London highlights that Gypsy and Traveller people frequently struggle to navigate the housing system and are routinely offered temporary accommodation that does not respect their traditional ways of living. This has resulted in an increase in the number of people from the communities who are finding themselves with no permanent, lawful place to park, which in turn makes them statutorily? homeless.

On Together Through Homelessness, we have also seen an increase in the number of dog owners from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities who are approaching our free vet care scheme for people with? no fixed abode. We have been working with our partners at Friends, Families and Travellers to ensure dog owners living in vehicles with no permanent place to park are able to access free vet care for their dogs. Together, we are supporting a number of mutual clients so that they can access the vet care their dogs need and stay together during a challenging time.

One of the dog owners we have been supporting with free vet care is Jen* and her dog Buddy* (not their real names).

When Jen was referred to our free vet scheme, she had been living in a caravan on a roadside camp for nearly 20 years. Jen had struggled to find work due to not having a permanent address, and when Buddy became unwell, she was struggling to afford his expensive vet bills. A Gypsy Liaison Officer that she engaged with through Friends, Families and Travellers got in touch with us, and we were able to start funding Buddy’s vet care at a local vet practice. Buddy has now been supported by us for a number of years and is still with his owner, Jen. We recently caught up with her and she shared with us just how much Buddy means to her and how important he is for her mental and physical wellbeing:

‘’Buddy means the world to me. He makes my caravan feel cosy and he helps make it feel like a home to me. He’s always my company and I don’t feel as lonely. I also feel a lot safer having him in the caravan as there have been cases of people breaking into caravans in the area.’’


Jen is an Irish Traveller and one of many dog owners from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community who have struggled to access safe, suitable housing for themselves and their beloved pets. With a shortage of Gypsy and Traveller sites and culturally suitable alternatives, language barriers, limited income as a result of employment discrimination, and inaccessible support services, the number of dog owners with no place to call home is sadly expected to rise in the coming months and years. This is why we are continuing to work with specialist organisations like Friends, Families and Travellers on putting together quick and simple referral pathways to our free vet scheme. We believe that together we can help many more people stay with their dogs without the worry of not being to afford their expensive vet care.

If you are a Gypsy or Traveller with no permanent place to park or are living on a roadside camp with a dog, we’re here for you and your four-legged friend. You can get in touch with us about your dog’s vet care here. You can find information about homelessness support for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities on the Shelter website. The Friends, Families and Travellers website also has a wealth of information about support services, including an online services directory with support services listed which are available to you across the UK.

We are always keen to collaborate with more specialist support services in the field. If you work for a Gypsy, Roma or Traveller service or a Gypsy Liaison office at a local authority, please do not hesitate to get in touch and find out more about how we can work together to support dog owners across the communities.

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