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Traveller Focus Week - improving health and wellbeing of Travellers Event


Public Health Agency

Type: News
Region: Republic of Ireland
Northern Ireland

Members of the Traveller community and their support organisations joined the Public Health Agency (PHA) and the Health and Social Care Board at an event on Thursday 5 December in Belfast to mark Traveller Focus Week. The aim was to share progress made over the previous year and celebrating good practice in meeting the health and wellbeing needs of Travellers.These needs were identified in the 'All Ireland Traveller Health Study' by University College Dublin in June 2010. It estimated that there are 3,905 Travellers living in 1,562 families in Northern Ireland, and the stark findings include that when compared with the life expectancy of the general population, male Travellers lose 15 years of life and females lose 11 years.The report made a number of recommendations, including:prioritising mother and children's health; enhanced preventative work for respiratory and cardiovascular disease, as well as  better risk detection and management of the disease;  development of primary care interventions  which involve Travellers  engaging with other Travellers in health improvement;engagement of men and young men in improving health and wellbeing and  access to healthcare.Speaking at the event, Mary Black, Assistant Director of Public Health (Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement) PHA, said: "The Public Health Agency works in partnership to promote health and wellbeing and reduce health inequalities."This event with the Travellers Health and Wellbeing Forum was an important opportunity to look at progress against agreed priorities and share good practice across Northern Ireland and the successful work of the Forum. One such example is the recruitment of Travellers into employment as health workers, developed by the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and part-funded by the PHA. Other areas are also considering work placements and all of this developing practice will help inform future partnerships with employers and help break down the real prejudice that can be experienced by Travellers."We also heard about the achievements made over a number of years by the Southern Area Action on Travellers (SAAT) inter-agency group. Jim Maye from Southern Education and Library Board outlined the key areas of work undertaken and thanked the Travellers, professionals and organisations for all the contributions made. This included the successful development on a data collection system that allowed local Traveller support staff to collect and record information from Travellers on children's health including dental health, immunisations, GP registration and levels of breastfeeding. The SAAT inter-agency group has completed the work they were originally set up to achieve and has ended meeting as an inter-agency group."Margaret Donaghy from Bryson An Munia Tober (a Traveller support organisation), added: "The event was a great success in terms of highlighting  successful work being taken forward by and with Travellers. I was heartened to see a good turn out by the Traveller community from all over Northern Ireland and also by the interest and commitment of so many public agencies and other organisations to work together to improve Traveller health. We were also delighted to have supported the inaugural performance of the Belfast Travellers Choir at the Event."The event, at Conway Mill in Belfast , also brought together representatives from the five health and social care trusts, councils, housing and key voluntary sector organisations, all involved in delivering the recommendations from the 'All Ireland Traveller Health Study'.





Rights: Public
Suggested citation:

Public Health Agency. (2013) Traveller Focus Week - improving health and wellbeing of Travellers Event [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 23rd October 2019].


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