Here is a link to a collection of photos I have taken at Dale Farm since Basildon Council issued the 28 days’ notice letters to residents on 4 July. Since then, residents’ lives have been turned upside down.
At Dale Farm, the Travellers are adapting to a changing world where travelling as they once did is no longer an option. They are able to live in caravans as they have traditionally done, to take responsibility for the needs of their extended families and, if able, to continue to travel as much as they can during school holidays. Parents who cannot read or write at all can see their children making significant progress at Crays Hill School. Elderly and ill relatives who may not have survived on the road have consistent access to the healthcare they need. Travellers from Dale Farm attend the local Catholic Church regularly, have welcomed people from the wider community into their homes and are willing to make a significant effort to build bridges with a local community that has been overtly hostile towards them.
With an eviction, this progress will have been wasted. They are facing life on the road, where they could be moved on daily, making it almost impossible to access even basic healthcare or education services. Most of the children were born in Basildon and have never known life on the road. Basildon Council is sending them a clear message that there is no legal place for them in this community. Who will give Travellers a legal place in society? And when will the UK government and local councils realize that by further marginalizing them, they are not only ignoring the human rights of an ethnic minority but also causing themselves on-going problems in the future?
Although residents have tried to hold on to a semblance of normality during this process, the worry and stress has permeated everything. They have been through a roller-coaster ride of emotions; They have packed up their belongings and mourned the loss of their homes and community. They have seen their homes become overrun by protestors and barricades. They have stood behind a cemented gate waiting for bailiffs to enter. And after a last-minute reprieve, they have been given a glimmer of hope that something good might come of these last three judicial reviews.
The waiting is the worst part. Today, at least, we will know the answer.
Posted By Susan Craig-Greene
Posted Oct 12th, 2011