Parallel Lives


Parallel Lives Project
 Identifying the Roma Community across the East of England


Roma People

The term 'Roma' was chosen at the first World Romani Congress held in London in 1971 and is now recognised across the EU as a way to decribe a diverse range of communities, tribes and clans. The European Commission identifies four different Roma Communities:

- Roma communities living in disadvantaged, highly concentrated urban districts, possibly close to other ethnic minoroties and disadvantaged members of the majority
- Roma communities living in disadvantaged parts of small cities / villages in rural regions and in segregated rural settlements isolated from majority cities / villages
- Mobile Roma communities with citzenship of the country or of another EU country
- Mobile and sedentary Roma communities who are third-country nationals, refugees, stateless persons or asylum seekers


There are an estimated 10 million Roma living through-out Europe.  The most significant populations are located in Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Sebia and Hungary. In these countries Roma make up 7-10% of the total population.

The issues faced by Roma in many countries are often multi-layered and historical and can be compared to communities living in developing countries. Poor health, illiteracy, unemployment, lack of access to education and housing are some of the challenges impacting Roma communities across Europe.

Roma in the UK

Roma people have been migrating to the UK for decades.  Numbers increased after May 2004 (A8) and January (A2) joined the European Union. Described as GRT (Gypsies / Roma / Travellers) Roma are often mistaken as a travelling community, when in fact the majority of Roma live in houses and although they may share some similaries with gypsies and travellers, they are a very different community and this is important to acknowledge when engaging with the Roma.

In 2013 the University of Salford published a research report estimating the Roma numbers across the UK. The research they conducted suggested that there were at least 200,000 Roma living across the UK, predominantly located in urban, multi-ethnic areas.


The report highlighted the Roma often arrive in the UK with a variety of complex needs, which Local Authorites, Police and other partners found challenging to manage. Issues such as poverty, entrenched discrimination and lack of literacy skills often meant it was difficult to engage with Roma and develop trusting relationships. Professionals work hard to engage with Roma, but it can be a challenging and time-consuming process.

Roma in the East of England


The Parallel Lives Project began with a scoping exercise to investigate the Roma populations in the East of England. The chart below shows how the estimated number of Roma have changed across the region from 2013 until 2018.  It is difficult to obtain accurate Roma numbers as many Roma will not identify as Roma because of past discrimination.

More details about the findings from the scoping exercise can be found in this document:

Parallel Lives Roma Project - Scoping Phase Results.pdf

Roma Safeguarding Cultural Awareness Training 2019 - 2020

In collaboration with Roma Support Group, the Parallel Lives Roma Project Team are delivering 16 Roma Safeguarding Workshops across the East of England. For more details on the workshop locations and content please visit the events page at:

RSG Working with Roma in Safeguarding Context.pdf

Parallel Lives Project Officers:

Rachel Heathcock

01284 758311

Sue Hay

07920 257964