“Our children haven’t got a chance of getting a pitch. They haven’t got a chance at being able to live their culture,” says Marian Mahoney, an Irish Traveller and grandmother. Mahoney had lived on the same site on Eleanor Street in Tower Hamlets for 37 years until she and her family were cleared out to make room for Crossrail three years ago. They were moved, along with 19 other families, to a different site in the same area – a rarity in London today, where provision for Gypsies and Travellers has dwindled since legal protections for their sites were removed in 1994. Accessing appropriate housing in the capital is compounded by a fundamental problem: no one knows quite how many of them there are. “When they’re planning, they don’t include us,” Mahoney says. “I feel that we’re just left out of everything. At the moment there’s no future for us – it’s like we don’t exist.” First recorded in the UK in the 16th century, Romany Gypsies did not achieve legal status as an ethnic minority until 1989, and Irish Travellers until 2000. The 2011 census was the first to include Gypsy and Traveller as an ethnic category and recorded… Read full this story
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