A women’s centre in London found that Irish Traveller families were being placed in temporary accommodation for long periods of time. This meant the older children would grow up, and by the time the family was offered permanent accommodation, they were being told that children over 18 could no longer live with the family. Moreover, the older children were being told to make separate housing applications elsewhere.

The families found this very distressing. Parents were being forced to either turn their children away and split the family up, or risk allowing them to stay at home secretly to try and keep the family together. The women’s centre were able to access training on the Human Rights Act from BIHR. This meant they were able to look at the situation being faced by the families through a human rights lens. The centre realised that splitting up families like this interfered with their rights to private and family life under the Human Rights Act (Article 8), and while this right can be restricted when necessary and proportionate, that didn’t seem to be the case here. The centre supported the families to talk to the local authority using the language of the Human Rights Act. This helped explain the impact of what was happening on parents and children. The local authority looked again at the decision, and it was decided that the families could continue living together.