Support and Advocacy
At present this is funded for one day a week through the Devon Advocacy Consortium. (PUT IN A LINK ?) The Advocacy work consists of anything from brief intervention (advice, signposting etc) to more complex cases (discrimination by public bodies, racism, evictions etc). The health related Advocacy work is done in conjunction with Health Promotion Devon.
In 2011 our Gypsy/Traveller worker dealt with 175 cases. A large number were around the issue of accommodation: – advice/guidance on planning permission; challenging local prejudice; representing clients at evictions; giving evidence to planning appeals. Other cases involved challenging discrimination by statutory bodies, working with victims of domestic violence, and supporting victims of racism and prejudice.
Case Study (1)
Family D contacted PDREC because of what they believed to be unfair and discriminatory behaviour towards them by Police Officers whilst they were on an unauthorised encampment. They were particularly concerned because of the vulnerability of one member of the family who had been in hospital that day. The family is of Irish Traveller heritage and was travelling in the South West.
Penny Dane interviewed the adults and on the basis of the information received put a complaint in to the Police on behalf of the family because it appeared that the treatment they received from local Police officers was not in accordance with Police policy on dealing with unauthorised Traveller encampments.
This complaint was not dealt with satisfactorily so a further complaint was put in to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) by PDREC. The main part of this complaint was upheld by the IPCC. As a result Devon and Cornwall Police have acknowledged that officers "did NOT act in accordance with the guidance and give due consideration to all of the travellers needs."
PDREC has also been assured that changes will be made so that this type of incident can be avoided in the future.
Case Study (2)
J.L is a young woman about twenty years old and pregnant with her first baby; she was staying temporarily on an unauthorised site and was worried about which health checks she needed. Her husband was moving around frequently looking for work. She approached PDREC and Penny organised for a health visitor to visit her on site and she was given the necessary health checks and information before moving on.
"Your contribution to G's planning appeal was invaluable. You brought essential local knowledge and expertise to the appeal to enable him & his family to present a clear picture of the choices that would face them if they were not allowed to stay on the site they have found; you could also make it clear how desperate the shortage of available sites is in Devon. You have experience in combating the kind of low level, and sometimes not so low level, hostility which is found at such events and managed to help him and his Traveller friends to present the case effectively."
Solicitor representing a Traveller family at their planning appeal.
"Penny's honesty and knowledge is priceless to the travelling community. Penny believes in her work, we believe in her" Traveller