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Project information

Pictures and Stories; Travellers in prison

To support Gypsies & Travellers to celebrate their culture through a programme of prisoner led family events in prisons. To overcome isolation from both family and culture which, combined with very low literacy and lack of trust in mainstream services, leads to poor mental health and high recidivism

April 2011 - March 2012

Charity information: Friends, Families and Travellers

Friends, Families and Travellers logo
  • Need


    The scattered distribution of Gypsies & Travellers means that families are less able to visit and our experience is that few Traveller prisoners are literate making it difficult to maintain contact with family - the heart of Traveller culture. Families expect to be always together so few have family photos. Very low literacy and the everyday experience of racism for Travellers means they often conceal their identity and rarely engage with advice or support for themselves or their families.


    Choosing and setting up music, pictures and stories with other Travellers builds confidence and pride in their culture. Sharing their work with their families builds a positive shared experience and family portraits taken on the days give a tangible reminder of the day. Prisoners are encouragede to engage with trusted advice and support services in and out of prison, reducing reoffending. The events also give a positive representation of Traveller culture to staff and other prisoners.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To improve mental health and engagement of Gypsies & Traveller prisoners and their families.


    » To support prisoners in using modern IT (Powerpoint, photo scanning, text editing) to produce high quality displays on Traveller culture.
    » To bring families together for a day of cultural celebration in prison, allowing pride in the prisoners efforts and pride in their culture.
    » To offer the chance for families to have family portraits to keep at home and in prison helping to maintain an important sense of family belonging.
    » To offer access to advice and support from cultually competent support workers for prisoners and families which can continue out of prison.

    What success will look like

    Success will be supporting 50 prisoners and families members to create and share a celebration of their culture with their family, access support and have a family photo to keep.

    Aim 2

    To reduce prejudice against Gypsies and Travellers through increased knowledge and understanding.


    » Gypsy & Traveller prisoners to share their own stories about their culture with staff and prisoners.
    » Sharing knowlege through planning and delivering the project with Diversity Officers and other prison staff.
    » To share our learning from this project with other stakeholders from the prison service and Gypsy and Traveller organisations.

    What success will look like

    Success will be 8 prisons hosting a celebration of Gypsy and Traveller culture improving understanding amongst staff and prisoners and reducing racial tension.

  • Impact


    The project will help prisoners and families to maintain their family relationships and build skill and confidence through group work and taking pride in their culture. These skills and engagement with our service will encourage access to other prison activities and support for themselves on leaving prison. Increased knowledge about Traveller culture will reduce racism by other prisoners and staff. We will record progress by self-evaluation by staff and prisoners involved in the project.


    There is a risk that insufficient interest from prisons or Gypsies and Travellers. We have researched this project carefully and ran a successful pilot in Ford prison last year when all the Gyspies and Travellers there were engaged. We have an excellent reputation with statutory and voluntary agancies and have previously provided training to prison Diversity Officers. This will also be mitigated by approaching twice as many prison in the SE and by promoting the success of the pilot event.


    Funders of this project will receive a quarterly report detailing ongoing and forthcoming activities, and any necessary changes that have been made to the project plans. We will record activities through attendance sheets, copies of displays, self-evaluation from participants and final report.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £9,980

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £4,000 staff costs 1 day/ week support worker
      £2,000 staff costs 1/2 day/ week support worker to assist at activity days and support families
      £500 materials photography and display material for exhibitions
      £600 supervision Supervision of project and child/vulnerable adult debrief
      £1,080 overheads contribution to core costs (rent, phone, finance)
      £1,800 travel travel to and from prisons in SE
  • Background


    Our project is located in prisons across the SE working out of our offices in Brighton. From our experience there are usually several Gypsies and Travellers in each prison and we are aiming to work with 2 women's prisons, 4 men's prisons and 2 young offender institutions. We provide support to Gyspy and Traveller families in Sussex through outreach services and telephone support nationwide and through a network of partner Gypsy and Traveller organisations.


    The 300,000 Gypsies and Travellers in the UK have the worst health and life outcomes of any ethnic group, experience the highest levels of racism and are over-represented in prisons according to the Ministry of Justice. Very low literacy, criminalisation of travelling life and racism mean Travellers are less likely to engage in the mainstream support which could promote good mental health and reduce reoffending. Staff and other prisoners will also benefit from insight into Traveller culture.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Families Friends & Travellers has been working with Gypsies & Traveller for over 10 years through our national helpline, outreach support and policy work. We have a good reputation in the Travelling communities and with mainstream agancies as an effective charity. We have worked with prison staff across the SE through diversity training and we researched this project, running a successful pilot event at Ford prison last year. We will also promote roll out through and end of project seminar.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Bek Dilley

    Bek is an experienced Support Worker from the Travelling community who initiated the pilot event at Ford prison. She will lead the project.

    Sarah Mann

    Sarah has provided diversity training to prison staff and will provide supervision to Bek and project support and arrange the end of project seminar .