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Perspectives on ageing in Gypsy families

Pauline Lane et al.

13 February 2012

This Perspectives paper explores the views of a range of older Gypsies as they reflect on their past and experiences of ageing.

We hope that sharing some of these experiences will lead to a celebration of how Gypsy families support their elders. Pauline Lane spoke to Gypsy elders who look back on their nomadic life with great affection and a sense of loss for themselves and young Gypsies, who cannot follow these traditions.

Contributors talked about:

  • The heart of Gypsy life being family. Most Gypsies continue to live in extended family groups and maintain traditional gender roles.
  • The fact that Gypsy families have always had very strict moral codes and this continues into the present day. Young people take on adult responsibilities at the age of 16.
  • Successive governments failing to deliver adequate sites for Gypsies and Travellers. The current legal system makes it nearly impossible for many of them to maintain traditional nomadic lives.

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