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Our school nursing service reaches out to young people in the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities in Warwickshire

Connect for health WARWICKSHIRE school nursing service

Published on: January 16, 2023

A new project has been launched by the Connect for Health school nursing service aimed at improving the health of children in the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities in Warwickshire.

The project falls in line with the 2020-2025 strategy from Warwickshire County Council, to set up a multi-agency hub that aims to increase the local educational and health support provided and aim to reduce health inequalities within the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.

Team Leader and Practice Educator, Anne Tomkinson, said: “The children and young people in the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities may require health support.

“Even though we don’t see them once they get to secondary schools, they have the right to access our service just like any other child or young person and we need to think of different ways of reaching them, working with the community to do so.”

Specialist Community Public Health Nursing student at C4H, Zelah Wickenden, has begun the groundwork for the project.

Zelah explained that cultural differences within the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities mean that a lot of children from these communities do not join secondary education after they leave primary schools. The C4H school nursing service, needed to be able to assess whether the children and young people have any health needs which may need to be addressed.

“The Gypsy, Roma Traveller community do suffer health inequalities. In this country, they are the most marginalised ethnic minority in the UK.

Men in the community statistically die ten years earlier than their counterparts in the settled community. Life expectancy for women in the community is 11.9 years below the UK average.

Phase one of the project is to establish connections with external agencies linked to these communities. The C4H staff’s hope is that through these connections, Zelah will be introduced to a Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community. This will allow her to be able to conduct surveys and determine the kind of health support the children, young people, and families in the community need.

Anne said: “Since undertaking this project, we have discovered that there are limited services in the UK for Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller communities, especially services such as C4H.

And she added: “Our hope is that Zelah will be able to conduct health needs surveys in these communities and provide recommendations to Warwickshire County Council, of how the service can implement the support required.

“The pilot is 6-9 months but could potentially see C4H support in the local work to close the inequality gap for these communities.”