“They said I was dirty and my dad didn’t have a job.”

Emma is a traveller and says the way the community is represented on TV leads to discrimination.

She’s been speaking to Radio 1 Newsbeat after Tommy Fury’s second-place finish on Love Island – he’s the first person from a traveller background to appear on the show.

“One of the big stereotypes is that all gypsies and travellers live in caravans and don’t pay taxes. It’s untrue,” Emma says.

“It’s constant and feels like an acceptable form of racism.”

Gypsies and travellers are people who have a travelling lifestyle and see it as an important part of their ethnic or cultural identity, with Romany gypsies and Irish travellers being a part of this group, according to the government,

The past

This series of Love Island isn’t the first time travellers have been seen on TV.

People from traveller backgrounds have appeared on reality shows before Tommy Fury – including the winner of Celebrity Big Brother 2011, Paddy Doherty, and Hughie Maughan, a runner-up in Big Brother.

There have also been shows about the community as a whole, including My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and The Gypsies Next Door.

According to the latest data, 58,000 people identified themselves as Gypsy or Irish Traveller in England and Wales in 2011.

‘Casual racism’

But some haven’t been happy with how previous shows have portrayed travellers.

A teenager wrote an open letter to Channel 4 criticising the show My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, saying it fuelled casual racism and was “strengthening stereotypes and ignorance”.

Channel 4 responded to that letter, saying: “We have strict protocols for any filming and absolutely refute any allegation the production team behaved inappropriately.”

“It’s horror fascination television,” Emma tells Newsbeat.

Emma says travellers are normal people with normal lives.

“There are lots of people doing the same things as everyone else. They have jobs, children in school and that’s how it should be.

“It shouldn’t be that feeling of gypsies and travellers and then the mainstream.”

Another criticism of shows has been the grouping of all traveller and gypsy communities under one umbrella.

“When TV does represent, it tends to cover all communities under one banner, which is incorrect,” says Michelle Gavin from Friends, Families and Travellers, an organisation that works on behalf of all Gypsies, Travellers and Roma.

“This is being lumped together – which is ‘othering’.

“People from these communities only have some shared characteristics, but each community has their own distinct history and many even have their own language. It’s not a fair representation.”

The makers of The Gypsies Next Door told Newsbeat: “We have received a number of positive messages from members of the travelling community praising the series for highlighting the issues the community come up against – usually fuelled by prejudice.”

The challenges

Emma says travellers face difficulties in everyday life because TV creates a false perception about how they live.

“I can’t get food shopping delivered to my address. It’s a permanent council site that’s been there for a number of years, but I can’t get a big chain supermarket to deliver.

“They feel uncomfortable going there. There’s no real reason, just a perceived image.”

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A 2017 report by the Traveller Movement suggested that 91% of travellers experienced discrimination because of their ethnicity and 77% experienced hate speech or a hate crime.

Looking ahead

Michelle says more needs to be done to represent the community on mainstream television.

“We have specialist programmes like My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding but we don’t have representation in normal everyday programs like EastEnders or Coronation Street.”

“Not to have that representation or a positive role model in that setting is sad really. It looks like a secret society.”

So will having more people like Tommy Fury on TV be a good thing for the traveller community?

“Of course it will help,” says Emma.

“Having people shown in positive roles on mainstream shows, even children shows, will definitely be a good thing.”

Channel 4 has not responded to Newsbeat’s request for comment.

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