Improving the lives of our Gypsy/Traveller communities is a significant human-rights commitment for Scottish Government and COSLA and is crucial if we are to tackle deep-rooted inequalities and deliver a fairer Scotland.
As leaders in national and local government, we are united in our view that in a modern and inclusive Scotland there is no place for what the Scottish Government’s Independent Race Equality Adviser Kaliani Lyle called “the widespread exclusion, deprivation and social antipathy that Gypsy/Travellers face”.
Through our work to develop this action plan, we have seen and heard evidence that Gypsy/Travellers have often missed out on improvements that the majority of people and communities across Scotland have enjoyed.
As well as seeing their traditional lifestyle eroded, our Gypsy/Traveller communities experience poorer outcomes in terms of living standards, education, health and employment, and often face extreme and persistent stereotyping and hostility as they go about their lives.
Across Scottish Government and COSLA, our 32 Local Authorities and the Scottish Parliament, there is a clear recognition of these injustices and the need for action to improve the lives of Gypsy/Travellers and for changes to be lasting.
This joint plan will start to demonstrate our firm commitment to make things right. It sets out the work we will do in partnership to deliver better outcomes for, and with, Gypsy/Traveller communities over the next two years.
The actions we will deliver have been developed with the advice, support and challenge of advocates, activists and members
of the Gypsy/Traveller communities, as well as being informed by the expertise of those who are responsible for developing and delivering policies and services, nationally and locally. These strong partnerships, ongoing political leadership and crucially, the participation of Gypsy/Traveller communities themselves, will be key to its success.
We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the community members and activists who have helped us to develop the action plan. Many of them have worked tirelessly over many years to campaign for change, and all of them have dedicated time and energy to share their stories and their experiences, their aspirations for their families and their communities. Their input has been invaluable and we look forward to continuing to work closely together to ensure that the actions in this document deliver meaningful change in the lives of Gypsy/Travellers across Scotland.
MSP, Minister for Older People and Equalities
Councillor Elena Whitham, COSLA Spokesperson for Community Wellbeing