Unabridged version: One Voice for Travellers

One Voice for Travellers, South Buckinghamshire


Delivery organisation

One Voice 4 Travellers Ltd, Bucks New University and NHS Buckinghamshire.


Slough Social Fund grant, managed by Buckinghamshire Community Foundation, programme value of £10,000.

About the project

The Travellers' project began in June 2009. The main focus is to support the health needs of women, particularly young mothers and older women.

Twelve women from Traveller communities will be selected to become health advocates across six Traveller sites. The trainee health advocates will work with women in the six sites and offer health advice on their needs and their families' needs. This will also include information and advice on emotional wellbeing and information on how to access social care support.

The educational element of the project has been developed by Bucks New University and NHS Buckinghamshire. Following a six-week course of tuition, the women received certificates of attendance at a special presentation ceremony, held at the University on 25 March 2010.

The six women received training in the following areas:

  • listening and interviewing skills
  • recognition of local sources for health signposting (for example, health promotion, and specialist diabetic health teams)
  • child and vulnerable adult protection proceedings
  • emotional wellbeing
  • first aid
  • drug awareness and prevention
  • basic information on medical emergencies which need urgent referral.

Up to 60 families will benefit from the project. The project was a finalist in the ‘Success in Partnership Working' category of the Health and Social Care Awards 2010 for the south-central region.

The big idea

One Voice for Travellers work in the East and South Buckinghamshire region. The main aim was to develop a project that engaged Traveller women in a relaxed environment.

One Voice works with the Traveller community and has done work around abuse and domestic abuse. A key message emerging from its work was the impact on health from abuse and the implications for individuals and their family members. There was also recognition that women from this community were not accessing healthcare services and that a different way of engaging and interacting with some of the women was needed.

The project sought to build confidence among Gypsy and Traveller communities, specifically women who lack confidence to engage with services. Similarly public services do not have the correct tools to engage with this community and lack the appropriate language to talk to this community.

Setting up the project

One Voice for Travellers worked with the Bucks New University, building on an existing relationship with Margaret Greenfield, an academic based in the university. Together they crafted a proposal, with a community development officer from the primary care trust (PCT).

Following a successful bid, the group contacted people within the PCT to develop the project.

Eight women were trained as health advocates. The women attended Bucks New University for a number of weeks. The training dealt with basic first aid, first aid for children, how to help with heart attacks, diabetes, strokes and other less acute illnesses like asthma. The women also discussed breast awareness for cancer, healthy eating and mental health issues.

The programme was targeted at women as some of the issues covered were gender specific, including domestic violence and emotional abuse, and it was felt that it was not appropriate to include men in the discussion. The women were aged from 16 years through to the late 50s.

The project works with volunteers from the community. The volunteers promote the projects on the site and circulate information on health promotion.

Some of the women did not participate in the full training programme to become health advocates, but opted for some aspects of the training, for instance learning about baby first aid.

Impact of the project

This project has had an impact on the lives of the women that have been trained and their families. The women have developed different approaches to respond to difficult situations and are applying the knowledge in their own lives.

For a lot of the women, undertaking a university course is a new experience in a new environment. Three of the women have gone on to study at university, several of the trainees are now in further education, and one woman is now in the care industry.

Participation in the programme has had a noticeable improvement in the confidence of some of the women. The project manager recalled one woman who was hesitant to mix with people. She came for some of the sessions and did not engage with the other participants. However, since completing a course she has proceeded to undertake smoking cessation courses and has enrolled in English language courses.

The women are much more confident in managing the health of other family members and seeking support from statutory services to better support other family members. The project manager recalled one woman who struggled to read and write but who displayed confidence in managing the healthcare of a family member following a heart attack and was confident in accessing help from the hospital.

The main challenge of the project was getting less confident women to participate. The training sessions were refined to be more personal. Trainers also had to be aware of the dynamics of the group, particularly because they were working with a tight-knit community and were committed to retaining the confidence of the group.

The volunteers and course deliverers undertook cultural awareness sessions as well as cultural competency.

Top tips to replicate this project in your locality

1. The project takes time to set up and it can be intense. Allow for extra time.
2. Build on existing projects and initiatives in the area and use these resources as support mechanisms.

15 September 2011

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