Documentary gives rare glimpse into the lives of Travellers in Derbyshire

A new television documentary programme aired for the first time this week which has offered a rare glimpse into the lives of Travellers in the Derbyshire Dales.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 9th February 2022, 10:39 am

The district’s failure to accommodate nomadic peoples has been well documented over the years, but those families at the centre of the controversy have mostly been talked about rather than listened to.

In Channel 4’s 60 Days with the Gypsies, explorer Ed Stafford spends time with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities across the country to understand the challenges they face – including a family in Matlock.

Ed said: “Like homelessness, Gypsy and Travelling communities are often shrouded in negativity despite very little understanding and I want to learn more.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

In Channel 4’s 60 Days with the Gypsies, explorer Ed Stafford spends time with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities across the country to understand the challenges they face – including a family in Matlock.

“I have no qualms about immersing myself in every ritual, tradition and aspect of the culture in order to get to know the individuals and unpick the existing stereotypes.”

One of the people Ed meets in the programme is Anna, in her 80s, who was living in the temporary encampment at Matlock station which hit the headlines last summer.

Anna, whose carers visit daily with their own jerrycans of water, said: “I’ve never lived in a house my whole life and I’m never going in one. I just want to be at a site with water and electricity.”

Noting a contrast with treatment of other camps, Ed said: “Compared to other district councils and county councils, when I came in here it seems like the guys are taking you seriously here.”

60 Days with the Travellers

Anna’s niece Pearl, said: “We can’t keep living like this on the side of the road. We’re not asking for much. We’re only asking for a site or a yard.”

Asked why she would not move into a house, she replied: “It’s our way of life. We’ve lived in a trailer all our lives. It’s like asking local people to come and live in a caravan.”

While in Matlock, Ed meets Siobhan Spencer from the Derbyshire Gypsy Liaison Group as they survey land earmarked for a permanent Traveller site, and hears from one of the site’s neighbours.

Ed also suffers an attempted break-in into his caravan, and his car his vandalised and smeared with excrement.

The second episode will be broadcast on Monday, February 14, at 9pm. Both parts are available to stream now at www.channel4.com