Funded by the GLA Voter ID Awareness Campaign fund, the project sought to improve awareness of voter ID requirements amongst Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) communities in London, and to encourage voter registration and electoral participation. The Voter ID workshops were delivered in Greenwich, Ealing and Harrow; with the project also being promoted at other Traveller Movement (TM) events organised for separate projects.

Events held in Greenwich and Harrow both took place in the homes of GRT community members who are current or former volunteers for the charity, who invited friends and families to their homes for informal information sessions. This approach allowed us to connect with community members who may have been unlikely to attend a more ‘formal’ event held at, e.g. a community hall or the Traveller Movement offices. These sessions taking place in a familiar venue allowed for a participatory format, with attendees asking questions and seeking guidance throughout the duration of events. 

Event attendees developed a significantly increased understanding of voter registration. At the Greenwich event, one attendee said:

I thought if you were registered then it was illegal not to vote, that’s why I’ve never registered. I don’t want to break the law if there are no politicians I like! If I knew I could register without being forced to vote I’d have done it much sooner.

The highest engagement was generated by the materials and resources that clarified misconceptions about voter registration, open register, and the electoral and non-electoral benefits of registering to vote. Furthermore, attendees reported an increased understanding of how to register to vote and the reasons for doing so.

Over the duration of the project, we were pleasantly surprised to find out that many people from GRT backgrounds possess an accepted photo ID, including those who are residents on Traveller sites, as well as those in bricks and mortar accommodations. While many still do not know about the changes to voting rights or some might need further support to get a photo Voter ID, detachment from/ indifference to electoral politics appears to be the biggest barrier to democratic participation. Our team at Traveller Movement had already anticipated this disillusionment and apathy and had created materials to counter this, but in the future, we plan to promote this aspect of the project even more heavily.

One of the challenges along the way was the fact that some of the participants did not possess birth certificates or national insurance numbers, therefore, creating significant barriers in both registering to vote and acquiring a free Voter Authority Certificate. To tackle this, our Traveller Movement team would like to create appropriate resources and information packs to support this specific group that requires bespoke and personalised support in obtaining such documentation.

Yvonne MacNamara
Chief Executive Officer