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Exploring interventions to tackle service provider discrimination against Roma, Gypsy and Traveller Communities (ref: RDF20/SWECW/LHUSSIER)

  • Full or part time
    Dr M Lhussier

  • Application Deadline
    Friday, January 24, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) communities experience among the poorest health outcomes in society [1, 2]. Numerous structural barriers underpin these 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 partnership with community members, is commonly used to counter discrimination. However, the effectiveness of this strategy remains uncertain, and concerns are raised that this may essentialise communities, perpetuate stereotypes, and relegate service provision to the realm of ‘specialist’ providers [4, 6]. As such, there is an urgent requirement for interventions that move beyond considerations of cultural competence alone, to address service provider prejudice against GRT communities [6]. This includes encouraging practitioners to consider their conscious and unconscious biases, and to question the power relations associated with their position [9, 10].

Drawing on theoretical and empirical work undertaken in the department, and widening participation initiatives, this PhD will explore how service provider education can best be developed and implemented, in order to reduce discrimination and increase service access for GRT Communities. Using an ethnographic design, it will examine the operation of equality and diversity training in depth, attending to relations of power, and both professional and community member perspectives. The project aims to collate learning from existing initiatives and foster the cross-fertilisation of successful practice across disciplines.

The project builds directly on work around marginalised groups undertaken by the supervisory team, aligning with the MDRT theme on vulnerable populations and social justice. The project will also further develop an international partnership with colleagues at Palacký University in the Czech Republic, where GRT groups face similar discriminatory practices, but where the socio-politico-cultural environment differs sufficiently to present opportunities for cross-cultural learning.

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. RDF20/…) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: Friday 24 January 2020
Start Date: 1 October 2020

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Home/EU students with a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2019/20, this is £15,009 pa) and full fees.


Forster N, Hodgson P, Bailey C. (2019) Energy advice for Traveller Communities in the context of ethnic and spatial premiums: ‘paying the price’ for other people’s choices. Journal of Poverty and Social Justice

Lhussier M, Carr S, Forster N. (2015) A realist synthesis of the evidence on outreach programmes for health improvement of Traveller Communities. Journal of Public Health doi: 10.1093/pubmed/fdv093

Crozier G, Davies J & Szymanski K (2009) Education, identity and Roma families: teachers’ perspectives and engagement with INSETRom training, Intercultural Education, 20:6, 537-548, DOI: 10.1080/14675980903448577

Forster N (2016) Jelena Ĉvorović: The Roma: A Balkan Underclass [Book review]. Czech Sociological Review, 52 (3). pp. 470-472. ISSN 0038-0288

Forster N, Lhussier M, Dalkin S, Hodgson P, Carr S (2017) Public health interventions targeting excluded groups: trust as a key factor for success [published abstract] European Journal of Public Health 27 (suppl_3)

Forster N (2017) Knocking on wood and bucking up your ideas: control and fatalism in Gyspsy and Traveller health [published abstract] European Journal of Public Health 27 (suppl_3)

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