This topic provides general information that may help you if you are a Gypsy/Traveller. The term 'Gypsy/Travellers' refers to distinct groups – such as Roma, Romany Gypsies, Scottish and Irish Travellers – who consider the travelling lifestyle part of their ethnic identity.

If you are looking for information about sites in the area, accessing housing or are homeless, see Helping you find somewhere else to live.

Advice and Support Service

Shelter Scotland provides an independent advice and support service for Gypsy/Travellers living in, or passing through, East Lothian and Midlothian. This service is available to all Gypsy/Travellers regardless of the type of accommodation you are living in. The service is funded by East Lothian and Midlothian Councils but is completely independent.

If you would like further advice on any issue such as housing, health services, benefit entitlement or education, you can contact Mhairi Craig, Advice and Support Worker on 0344 515 2526.

Benefit Entitlement

If you are on a low income you may be entitled to Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit to help you with the costs associated with renting a pitch. More information on how much you may be entitled to and making a claim can be found in the Money and Affording to Stay section.

Racial Harassment and Discrimination

Everyone has a right to live in peace but unfortunately some Gypsy/Travellers living on sites and elsewhere experience racial harassment. Any behaviour that makes you feel distressed, alarmed or afraid, which violates your dignity or which creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment can be classed as harassment.

This could include:

  • verbal abuse, such as name-calling, insults or racist jokes
  • damage to property, for example, vandalism, racist graffiti, breaking windows or starting fires
  • nuisance telephone calls, texts or emails
  • bullying, intimidation and threats
  • physical abuse or violence
  • publishing and distributing leaflets or newspapers likely to cause racial hatred.

The Council has produced a booklet with advice about what to do if you experience racial harassment.

If someone discriminates against you because you are a Gypsy/Traveller you may be able to take action using anti discrimination law - for example, if a site owner refuses to let you rent a pitch on their site, or a landlord refuses to accommodate you because you are a Gypsy/Traveller. This applies whether you are pursuing a travelling lifestyle on the road, or are living in settled accommodation but identify yourself as a Gypsy/Traveller.

For further advice about tacking discrimination, visit the Shelter Scotland website.