Alienated from the West and rarely mentioned in equality discourse, traveller communities are subject to many forms of discrimination. Cordon and colleagues noted this in the context of global healthcare, workplaces, education and the criminal justice system (CJS) in comparison to other ethnic minorities who were discriminated less in these areas overall. Expanding on this, the Women and Equalities Committee (WEC) identified that different groups within the traveller umbrella are not sufficiently differentiated in terms of local authorities and public services addressing individual needs.
While broad and fragmented, traveller communities were identified by Cordon as highly cohesive, self-assured and protective of one another, affecting the limited level of research on them. Additionally, Liégeois studied how strong, internal social structures serve as the bedrock of resistance against eradication and discrimination, forcing the idea of survival as a distinct ethnicity. Historically, traveller groups have been present in England since the 1500s, with their various origins misconceived. In fact, travellers originate from Ireland, parts of Europe and South Asia (among other places) and have been consistently targeted by laws in all EU states at various points of time since. Not to mention that the Porrajmos(mass slaughter of 25% of the Roma population) was instigated by the Nazis during World War II, an event barely discussed in contrast to other marginalised groups targeted during this time. Hence, traveller community trust towards the state remains understandably limited today.
Though the popular societal conception is of traveller groups living exclusively in nomadic, temporary living arrangements, the 2011 census in the UK (the first nationally that collected information about travellers) identified that almost three-quarters live in houses and apartments, rebuking this. However, their quality of life remains considerably lower than other ethnic groups, with a median age of 26 implying systemic issues around their treatment in wider society (House of Commons). Hence, the Department of Education (DoE) identified the importance of secondary education on improving outcomes, as the transfer between primary and secondary is a significant point in a young person’s life where class attendance can gear one of two ways. This compounds with disproportionate levels of special educational needs (SEN) in traveller communities affecting attainment, contributing to a four-fold likelihood of becoming excluded, as opposed to a successful journey in education.
Though sources identify a plethora of issues experienced by traveller communities, there is limited evidence to suggest that proactive steps have been taken to counteract these, or even better, eliminate disadvantages entirely. Which, though explained to an extent by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in terms of a lack of community engagement as attributed to an extensive, global history of genocide, banishment and exclusion from mainstream society, does not identify how the state and its institutions are actually tackling this. So, despite government commitments to reduce inequalities for these groups, Dar argued that these continue to persist, emphasising a significant rift in progress between ethnic groups through government neglect.