Working with minority groups – English Gypsy and Irish Travellers

by Lynne Hartwell - Research Nurse Leicester Partnership Trust

I have worked with the English Gypsy and Irish Traveller community for over 20 years initially as a Traveller site Health Visitor, latterly as Manager of County and City wide Traveller Health Service, and finally as coordinator of our team of 30 Gypsy Traveller Health Ambassadors.

Working with the community on the ASK SNIFF research study was both exciting and challenging. As a community Gypsies and Travellers rarely come together in groups outside their own family networks. Many mistrust Professionals especially those wanting to ask questions and are wary of where the information is going. They hold strong family views on childcare and many still use old family remedies. However in small groups, held on familiar territory, with trusted support workers, and conducted with sensitivity by the research team, they felt able to explore and discuss the topics for ASK SNIFF. Many continued these discussions with family when they returned home, and all participants are looking forward to being able to use the final tool developed to assist them with childhood illness.