Published on November 13th, 2012 | by Archon0
Newsletter Article 2011
The Way Forward
Traveller Counselling Service Conference in Dublin Castle
The Traveller Counselling Service held a conference in Dublin Castle on 29th 9th 2010 to mark the first AGM of the Traveller Counselling Service. The theme of the conference was “ the Way Forward” and the aim was to present the way forward for the development of the Traveller counselling service and engage with others who are involved with improving the health of the Traveller community both Traveller and settled people. Both mainstream service providers voluntary organisations and Traveller organisations from around the country turned up including service providers from the UK. The Minister John Maloney who has responsibility for mental health opened the conference and spoke about the importance of supporting people who were experiencing mental health difficulties, he also spoke about the difficulties he experienced growing up and having a father who was an alcoholic.
Jim O’Brien gave an over view of what the Traveller Counselling Service had done to date and some of the outcomes from the work so far. Jim said Over the last two years since the service officially opened its doors a lot of development and progress has taken place, in the first year we launched the project we did not know how it would be received or how the Travelling community would respond to it and the big question was would the community use the service? This question has been very firmly answered by the Traveller community. In the first year of the service we had 150 appointments and enquiries about the service, which is a great progression within the Traveller Community, This year and particularly in the 2nd half of the year we are seeing between 8 and 10 clients each week which is a large number considering that the Traveller Community is not the majority population.
This increase is due to a number of factors one of the key ones being the placing of counsellors in local areas in partnership with local Traveller organisations,
Mick Mason outreach worker with the Bray Traveller Development group talked about the impact of having the Traveller counselling service placed in the local area, Mick said it had really made a difference and that people were really using the service. Mick said The benefit for us is that our clients can avail of counselling in their local area which is vital for them to move forward and for their recovery from drug/alcohol related problems. We have already seen the benefit in a short space of time as one of our clients is in the process of going in for treatment as a direct result of the weekly counselling they have been receiving. We hope that the learning gained from this service around Travellers lack of trust of services, services own lack of understanding of Traveller culture and the issues around Traveller culture and issues surrounding diversity will hopefully lead to a situation where Travellers will feel able and comfortable to attend mainstream counselling services.
Thomas McCann presented a strategy for the way forward and the key points which were identified in the plan were that the service had to be accessible which meant that counsellors had to be placed in local areas where Travellers could access the service. It also had to be sustainable which means that it has to be done in partnership with local Traveller organisations and that small amounts of funding would be sourced locally the local Traveller organisations. Thomas said the long term vision that all services need to be culturally inclusive and sensitive to the needs of all people
The short to medium term vision is the development of a culturally sensitive counselling service for the Traveller community in Ireland
In the afternoon workshops took place where the participants and a chance to discuss their reactions to what they herd and also what they felt should included in the Traveller counselling service to make it more culturally sensitive and appropriate for Travellers, there was a lot of feedback from the discussion groups. We then had a plenary where everyone came back together and discussed the feedback. The feedback from the discussion groups was very positive with very good suggestions and ideas, all participants at the conference felt that this service was very important and that there was a real need to develop it.
The conference was very successful and we had a full house, the participants felt that the conference was very and that their needed to be more of these types of conferences.
We hope that we will hold another conference to follow on from this sometime in later on in the year
The Traveller Counselling service would like to thank all those who attended the conference and have supported the service since it was launched in 2008