A CONFERENCE at York St John University is to examine how people involved in services such as education, health, housing and police can work with the gipsy and traveller community more effectively.

The one-day conference on Friday, January 17 will feature national speakers as well as local practitioners and community members.

“It will promote inclusion by dispelling myths and by challenging widely held negative stereotypes,” said Christine Shepherd, chief officer with York Travellers Trust, whose objectives include improving community cohesion and promoting active citizenship.

“It will break down the barriers, raise awareness and give an insight into this vibrant culture, thus increasing ‘outsiders’ confidence to engage with members of the gipsy and traveller community.”

She said mistrust, fear and ignorance on both sides were often the most difficult obstacles to positive communication.

She said the event was a first for York and it was intended to use it as a pilot to influence policy makers, and promote networking and engagement.