Supporting Vulnerable Communities Across the East of England

Parallel Lives – Integrating Roma people and communities across the East of England

The Parallel Lives Roma Project is based within the East of England Local Government Associations  Strategic Migration Partnership Team and is delivered by Sue Hay and Rachel Heathcock. A central objective of the project is to raise awareness about Roma communities and their needs across the East of England amongst frontline workers and their managers.

The coronavirus has significantly affected the Roma community in the East of England. Many members of the Roma Community will have lost their sources of daily income and quarantine measures will have impacted on their essential community relationships. For some Roma people, English is a new language and therefore understanding the new government rules, appreciating the full impact of the virus and teaching children at home will be challenging. Roma people often live in houses of multiple occupation, which will be very challenging with restricted opportunities to leave the house.

The project has established that the largest numbers of Roma people in the region live in Luton, Peterborough, Ipswich and Southend-on-Sea. In Ipswich and Luton the majority of Roma people are Romanian. In Peterborough the Roma community is more diverse, originating from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania. In Southend-on-Sea, the majority of Roma people are thought to be Czech and Polish. Jake Bowers has produced a film for the project showing what life is like for the Roma Community in different parts of the East of England. This can be viewed at: 

Data collection on numbers of Roma people in an area is notoriously difficult because many are reluctant to disclose their Roma ethnicity, due to historic persecution and racism. However, taking national insurance number registration data as a proxy indicator, it is estimated that there are at least 20,000 across the East of England.  More information about the history and culture of the Roma Community can be found here


Coronavirus resources for professionals to support the Roma community can be found at the following sites:


Roma Support Group

Coronavirus: Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives

Coronavirus: stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives – Romani

Protecting vulnerable people during the COVID-19 outbreak


If you require anymore information regarding the Parallel Lives Project. Please contact:

Sue Hay at [email protected] or Rachel Heathcock at [email protected]