Better Places for Scotland’s Traveller Community – a PAS event

Creating Better Places for Scotland’s Gypsy/Traveller Community

October 1st 2019, Saracen House, Glasgow

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The Gypsy/Traveller community is deeply rooted in Scotland with its long history and culture. Despite this, Gypsy/Travellers are too often marginalised and excluded from decisions that affect them. The roots of the inequalities experienced by the Gypsy/Traveller community are complicated and multifaceted, for example under-provision of sites, prejudice and stigma over many generations and a lack of understanding of their nomadic culture together with systemic barriers to access and participation in public services.

The Scottish Government and COSLA are set to publish a joint Action Plan on Gypsy/Travellers. Th coincides with the Planning (Scotland) Bill 2019 gaining Royal Assent. Both will play an important part in improving outcomes for Gypsy/Travellers across a wide range of areas including education, health and social care and in securing quality accommodation and amenities which meet and respect cultural needs.

PAS has been working with Gypsy/Traveller community for many years to raise awareness of and access to the planning system to allow the Traveller community to have greater awareness, input, influence and control of decisions about place that affect their day to day lives.

Studies have shown that places where we spend our time have an important impact on our lives, health and wellbeing. Through a recent project on behalf of NHS Health Scotland, PAS has been working with Gypsy/Travellers across Scotland to help improve understanding of the impact of place on health and wellbeing.

This event is an ideal opportunity for Gypsy/Travellers, local and national government officers, elected representatives at local and national level, planners, community planning, community councillors, public health professionals, employers, infrastructure providers and all other relevant stakeholders to engage with other thought leaders and potential partners that can help forge solutions to the challenges faced by the community.


PAS helps people to engage with the places they live in. PAS provides impartial planning advice, training, education programmes, facilitation, community visioning and awareness-raising to ensure everyone has a voice in creating positive communities.

A copy of the agenda for the event follows below and will be updated regularly. If you have any queries regarding the event please contact us via

Event Agenda


9:30 Registration and networking

10:00 Opening remarks from the Chair – Davie Donaldson, Activist

10:05 Session 1 – Understanding the needs of Scotlands Gypsy/Traveller Communities

Opening Address – Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning

Understanding the needs of traveller communities – Davie Donaldson, Activist

Addressing housing needs of Scotland’s travellers – Cllr Elena Whitham, Joint Community Wellbeing Spokesperson, CoSLA

Human rights and traveller communities – Chris Oswald, Head of Policy and Communications, EHRC Scotland


12:30 Networking lunch

13:15 Session 2 – The role of placemaking and planning in creating better spaces

Why Place matters – Petra Biberbach, CEO, PAS

Place, health and wellbeing – John Howie, Organisational Lead, Health Equity (Place), NHS Health Scotland

Moving towards and inclusive planning system


14:35 comfort break

14:45 Session 3: Changing the Narrative – Panel Workshop and Discussion

There is a recognised need to counter the negativity that is geared towards Gypsy/Traveller Communities, particularly within the planning system, and a need to raise awareness of Gypsy/Traveller culture. This is also an issue within the media, with some local authorities are receiving FOI requests every month or second month from journalists or reporters asking how much money is being spent on these communities. This session will explore how we can change this conversation so that the focus of engagement, conversation and the media is based around the needs of these communities and their significant contributions to Scottish society.

This will consist of discussion groups of 5-6 each chaired by one of the event speakers with an objective of discussing these issues and potential solutions. Each group will then feed this back to the panel for discussion and a Q&A with the objective that some of these ideas can then be taken forward and explored as a means of delivering change.

Panelists include:

  • Petra Biberbach, CEO, PAS
  • Calum Ogden, Manager, Gypsy Traveller Carers Project, MECOPP
  • Hilary Third, Secretariat to the Ministerial Working Group on Gypsy/Travellers, Scottish Government Equality Unit
  • Dominique Barr, Project Lead, Women’s Voices
  • Eloise Nutbrown, Policy Manager (Migration, Population and Diversity)
  • Dominique Barr, Project Lead, Women’s Voices

15:50 Closing remarks from the Chair

16:00 Close