A unique set of free resources about the culture and history of Britain’s New Travellers has been created by The Children’s Society.
A year-long piece of work, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the New Travellers, Old Story project collected oral histories from New Travellers across the South West and used them to make three public exhibitions and a Heritage Pack about New Traveller lifestyle and culture. By allowing New Travellers to tell their story in their own words, the project gave them a chance to explain the political, economic, social and environmental reasons as to why they had taken to the road and what their lifestyle contributed both to them personally and the wider society. Often living in remote locations, on very low incomes, and no longer able to live together on large sites, since the 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, New Travellers can suffer isolation and difficulty in accessing services available to the housed rural poor.
The Children’s Society has worked with young New Travellers and their parents in the South West for nearly twenty years, providing support and advice. Young Travellers were involved in all aspects of this project – being interviewed and conducting interviews, sharing family photos and advising on the contents of the exhibition.
The three exhibitions created by The Children’s Society used interview extracts, photos, painting and narrative history to tell this story and many more. Titled ‘Why I Became A New Traveller’, ‘A Short History of New Travellers’ and ‘Festival!’, the exhibitions were displayed in council offices, libraries, schools and children’s centres across the South West. The public reaction to them was very positive, with the vast majority of comments made to The Children’s Society expressing a newfound admiration for Travelling people and regret that, previously, the only way of hearing about them had been through highly prejudiced newspaper reports. The exhibitions are available to hire, free of charge from The Children’s Society. Check out the New Travellers, Old Story website. You can also download a PDF of the Heritage Pack from the same webpage. The pack contains all the material from the three exhibitions as well as poems by young new Travellers, a bibliography and a lengthy section on where to find out more information and advice.
Download a copy of the Heritage Pack: Understanding New Travellers’ history and culture (pdf file, 1.7mb)