Gypsies and Travellers

The term Gypsy, Roma and Traveller is a collective term used to describe a wide variety of cultural and ethnic groups. There are many ways in which ethnicity may be established: these include language, nomadic way of life, and crucially, self-identification. Defining a person as a Gypsy, Roma or Traveller is a matter of self-ascription and does not exclude those who are living in houses. Ethnic identity is not lost when members of the communities settle, but it continues and adapts to the new circumstances.

A number of different groups are covered by the generic term Gypsy, Roma and Traveller: English and Welsh Gypsies, Irish and Scottish Travellers, showmen (fairground people) and circus people, bargees (occupational boat dwellers) and New Travellers. Most of these communities have a long tradition of a travelling lifestyle, although their history and customs vary.

For more information about the history and culture of Gypsy and Traveller communities and for information and advice for Gypsies and Travellers please visit the Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT) website. FFT are the only national charity that works on behalf of all Gypsies, Travellers and Roma regardless of ethnicity, culture or background.

Gypsies and Travellers in South Somerset

There are 3 permanent Gypsy and Traveller sites in South Somerset. Chubbards Cross in Ilton has 6 pitches and Marsh Lane in Tintinhull has 8 pitches. There is also a small site near Pitney.

All sites are managed on our behalf by Elim Housing. An application form to be considered for a pitch is available online.

When it comes to private Gypsy sites, we will give full and fair consideration to proposals, and will apply planning policy and enforce planning controls fairly and firmly. We’ll safeguard and defend the local environment, local facilities and services from issues flowing from unlawful and unplanned Gypsy and Traveller encampments and developments.

Somerset Practitioner Forum for Gypsies and Travellers

In Somerset, there is a forum that brings together practitioners from a wide range of organisations who work with or have an interest in working with Gypsies and Travellers. The Forum provides an opportunity to learn about particular developments and to share best practice.

If you are interest in participating in future Forum meetings please contact


Locally, ‘Support Services for Education’ are able to provide face-to-face cultural competency training to local organisations including schools. To discuss this, contact the team directly at or phone 0300 123 2224.

Health and wellbeing

As part of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month (June 2021), a Clinical Commissioning Group webpage was created to assist in signposting people to relevant health and wellbeing services. Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Health – NHS Somerset is aimed at members of the Gypsy and Traveller community who are either permanently living in Somerset or travelling through. The page offers guidance on accessing urgent care, maternity services, primary care services, pharmacies and much more.  It is designed to provide support to community members and also professionals to sign-post into appropriate health services.

For information and resources on keeping healthy please visit our local public health website. Gypsy and Travellers do not need an address in order to register with a GP. A recent letter from the Secretary of State for Health clearly states that being unable to provide an address is not grounds for refusing registration. If you are experiencing difficulties accessing GP Surgeries, ‘friends, family and travellers’ have produced a ’health help card‘.

For information on Social Care services provided the Adult Social Care service, visit our Care and support for adults section.

You can find information on the services available for children and young people up to 25 years with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) and how to access them in our Somerset’s SEND Local Offer section.

Last reviewed: May 26, 2023 by Jenny

Next review due: November 26, 2023

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