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Exploring interventions to tackle service provider discrimination against Roma, Gypsy and Traveller Communities (RDF19/HLS/SWECW/DAVIES)

   Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

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  Dr J Davies  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Roma, Gypsy and Traveller communities experience among the poorest health outcomes in society [1, 2]. Numerous structural barriers underpin these health inequalities, including significant difficulties in accessing health services, accommodation, education and employment [3-5]. Recent work points to the persistence of racism and discrimination in preventing service access [4, 6-8]. Cultural awareness training, delivered in conjunction with community members, is commonly used in an effort to counter discrimination and aid communication. However, the effectiveness of this strategy remains uncertain, and concerns have been raised that this may essentialise and reinforce the difference of community members, thereby perpetuating stereotypes and relegating service provision to the realm of ‘specialist’ providers [4, 6]. As such, there is an urgent requirement for interventions (which move beyond considerations of cultural competence alone) to address service provider prejudice and reduce the discrimination experienced by Roma, Gypsies and Travellers [6]. This includes encouraging practitioners to consider their unconscious biases, and to question the power relations associated with their position [9, 10].

Drawing on existing theoretical and empirical work undertaken in the department, this PhD will explore how models of service provider education can best be developed and implemented, in order to reduce discrimination and increase service access for Roma, Gypsy and Traveller Communities. Using a collective case study design, encompassing the perspectives of professionals and community members, it aims to collate learning from existing equality and diversity training initiatives. In doing so, it intends to foster the cross-fertilisation of successful practice across different disciplines.

The project builds directly on the supervisors’ doctoral research and a broader strand of work around marginalised groups (including NIHR funded research), aligning with the MDRT theme on vulnerable populations and social justice. It will feed into a burgeoning international partnership with colleagues in the Czech Republic, presenting opportunities for cross-cultural learning. The studentship will be advertised through a Roma research network, Fuse, and the supervisor’s research and practice contacts.
Eligibility and How to Apply:
Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDF18/…) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: Friday 25 January 2019

Start Date: 1 October 2019

Northumbria University is an equal opportunities provider and in welcoming applications for studentships from all sectors of the community we strongly encourage applications from women and under-represented groups.

Faculty: Health and Life Sciences
Department: Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing
Principal Supervisor: Jane Davies, Natalie Forster, Monique Lhussier

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Home/EU students where a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2018/19, this is £14,777 pa) and full fees.


1. Parry G, Van Cleemput P, Peters J, Walters S, Thomas K, Cooper C. (2007) Health Status of Gypsies and Travellers in England. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 61(3):198–204.

2. Cook B, Wayne G, Valentine A, Lessios A, Yeh E. (2013) Revisiting the evidence on health and health care disparities among the Roma: a systematic review 2003‐2012. International Journal of Public Health 58: 885–911.

3. Peters J, Parry GD, Van Cleemput P, Moore J, Cooper CL, Walters S. (2009) Health and Use of Health Services: A Comparison between Gypsies and Travellers and Other Ethnic Groups. Ethnicity & Health 14(4):359–77

4. McFadden A, Siebelt L, Gavine A, Atkin K, Bell K, Innes N, Jones H, Jackson C, Haggi H, MacGillivray S. (2018) Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Access to and Engagement with Health Services: A Systematic Review. European Journal of Public Health 28(1):74–78.

5. Cemlyn, S., M. Greenfields, S. Burnett, Z. Matthews, and C. Whitwell. (2009). Inequalities Experienced by Gypsy and Traveller Communities: A Review. Manchester: Equality and human Rights Commission.

6. Watson HL, Downe S (2017) Discrimination against childbearing Romani women in maternity care in Europe: a mixed-methods systematic review. Reproductive Health, 14(1): 1-16.

7. Greenfields M. (2008) “A Good Job for a Traveller?” Exploring Gypsy and Travellers’ Perceptions of Health and Social Care Careers: Barriers and Solutions to Recruitment, Training and Retention of Social Care Students. Aim Higher South East.

8. Deuchar R and Bhopal, K. (2013) ‘We're still human beings, we're not aliens’: promoting the citizenship rights and cultural diversity of Traveller children in schools: Scottish and English perspectives. British Educational Research Journal, 39 (4): 733-750.

9. Howard J, Vajda V. (2016) Inclusion as an Agenda for Transformative and Sustainable Change: Addressing Invisible Power through Reflective Practice. IDS Bulletin, 43–56.

10. Daly J. (2015) Thinking About Internal Prejudice And Anti-Oppressive Practice In Child Safeguarding Social Work With Irish Travellers In The UK. Journal of Social Work Practice 30(4):1–13
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