Tuesday 25 June 2019

Traveller women are facing 'multiple' levels of inequality, conference told

Delegates at the Traveller Mental Health conference at Riverside
Delegates at the Traveller Mental Health conference at Riverside

Traveller women are survivors and they "have to be". That's according to Bridget Kelly from the National Traveller Women's Forum who spoke to a packed room at the Riverside Hotel last Wednesday for World Mental Health Day.

She spoke about the multiple levels of inequality women in the community feel as Travellers and as Traveller women.

On describing the circumstances of Traveller women Bridget said "We are survivors and we have to be".

The event was hosted by Sligo Traveller Support Group and saw a wide range of speakers address the issue of mental health and suicide within the Traveller community.

Manager of Sligo Traveller Support Group Bernadette Maughan addressed the issue of mental health on a national level while Martin Jones, manager of the HSE Alcohol and Substance Misuse Counselling Service highlighted some of the supports that are available within the HSE and how to access them.

Allyson Coogan from Exchange House Ireland spoke about the need for Traveller-focused mental health services who are more aware and tuned in to issues that may occur in the community.

Accommodation worker with the Irish Traveller Movement T.J Hogan talked about the various relatives he had tragically lost to suicide. T.J also spent time explaining the impact that poor, inadequate and inappropriate accommodation has a severe impact on the mental well-being of the community.

Traveller activist and community development worker Eileen Flynn said that while caravans were where many Travellers wish to live, they couldn't be considered homes without the basic services such as access to water, electricity and heat. Eileen said that it was vital to support the Travellers that choose "education, marry outside the community, or are gay Travellers".

Sligo Rovers striker Mikey Drennan spoke with moving honesty about his own battles with depression.

Sligo Champion