The government have shown support for the Gypsy and Traveller community, saying that they can continue to stay in their current place of residence during the coronavirus outbreak.

A letter, co-signed by 30 organisations associated with Gypsy, Traveller and Boater communities, was sent to government ministers to ask for more support for these communities, as they had received little guidance and support since the Covid-19 pandemic.

The letter was addressed to Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care; Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government; and Rebecca Pow, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Concerns among the GRT community were led by the possibility of evictions from their current sites, however the government have said they will be taking no such action at this moment in time.

Betty Blue Smith Packman-Billington, chair of Dorset based traveller group Kushti-Bok and one of the organisation leaders to sign the letter said: “What we are trying to do is stop all evictions, as many local authorities are saying GRT are not included in government guidelines and to make sure that the GRT community especially roadside are made aware of the implications of this virus and how to keep themselves and others safe.

“Negotiated stopping is something that has been happening in Leeds for many months and is working well.

“Therefore, we are hoping at this crucial time to support GRT community and other vulnerable groups of people.”

Negotiated Stopping involves local authority officers making an agreement with Gypsies, Roma and Travellers on unauthorised encampment, allowing them to stay either on the land they are camped on or move to a bit of land more suitable for all parties.

At present Dorset council have a transit site at Piddlehinton which is now closed until the summer.

BCP council have no transit sites and many caravan parks and campsites across the conurbation have closed following guidelines set out by the government.

In response to the letter, a government spokesperson said: “The Government takes the welfare of all citizens seriously and we have been in close contact with Gypsy and Traveller communities.

“Where people live permanently in caravan parks or are staying in caravan parks while their primary residence is unavailable, they may continue to do so.”