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Added 24 April 2024

What prompts Romanian Roma people to move to the UK?

In the British context, Roma identifies minoritised ethnic groups migrating from central and Eastern Europe. Romanian Roma people tend to migrate to the UK due to their poor economic situation back home, being unable to access basic needs such as food and housing. The move to the UK is often in search of creating a better life, and many Roma people may see the risk of rough sleeping in the UK as better than staying in Romania. However, after migrating, Roma people often face a multitude of challenges such as linguistic, cultural, and institutional barriers, coupled with a lack of social and support networks.

What forms of homelessness are experienced by the Romanian Roma community in the UK?

Many Roma people who migrate to the UK will often rough sleep for a period of time before finding accommodation. Sofa surfing is also common within the community, with individuals having to frequently move between homes of relatives, constrained by financial barriers and often being unable to prove their residency status. Research suggests that the number of Roma people accessing local authority temporary accommodation has risen in recent years. Hidden homelessness, such as living in overcrowded, inadequate, or substandard accommodation is prevalent among this community.

Factors affecting Roma homelessness:

  • Poverty: most Roma people who have migrated have experienced a high degree of poverty, both in Romania, and in the UK
  • Cultural & administrative barriers: lack of language skills and limited understanding of legal and administrative requirements in the UK
  • Labour market disadvantage: without support to navigate employment law, Roma individuals often end up in underpaid jobs, with long hours, and without a legal contract
  • Discrimination: prejudiced attitudes against Roma people from different stakeholders such as local authority staff, landlords and letting agents
  • Poor treatment in the private rented sector: due to language barriers, private landlords are known to exploit Roma people, charging high rent for unfit living conditions.

How can services support Roma people experiencing homelessness?

Training

Services should offer dedicated training for staff teams on raising awareness about the history, culture, and other social norms of the Roma community. This will support effective service interactions, develop new/adapt existing services, and help to build trust and mutual understanding.

In December 2023, FEANTSA hosted a webinar series for homelessness service providers working to support Roma communities to exit situations of homelessness and to improve access to adequate housing. The recordings of these webinars can be accessed here.

Engaging members of the Roma community

Speaking with Roma people during the process of designing and delivering services will increase the potential of vulnerable Roma to access them. Having access to translation services is also key to overcoming communication barriers.

Further Resources

  • Research exploring the phenomenon of Roma homelessness can be found here
  • Roma Support Group provides a range of support, including advice and advocacy, mental health support, as well as offering training for organisations.
  • The Traveller Movement website contains a wealth of resources, as well as details of their research and policy lobbying to promote inclusion.
  • St Mungo‚Äôs has a Roma Rough Sleeping Team which supports the Roma community sleeping rough in London.