"Gypsy, Roma and Traveller ( GRT) Communities Training"

About: Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust / Adult mental health (inpatient)

(as a staff member),

As a staff member I was able to access training organised by our own Equality & Diversity department on meeting the needs of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) communities.

This was delivered by Astren training. www.astren.co.uk

I was accompanied by a Trust Governor and we heard information about the GRT communities, cultures and lifestyles. It gave us an opportunity to challenge myths and stereotypes and we found out about the impact of inequalities on the lives of GRT communities, particularly around health inequalities and mental health. It was useful to challenge our own feelings and discover we all held some of these prejudices due to lack of knowledge and awareness.

The stigma experienced by GRT communities was highlighted by the trainers one of whom was an English Roma Gypsy with his own business now living in a house due to ill health for part of the year and travelling for the remainder. He was incredibly open and revealing about how society misjudges and excludes these communities based on stereotypes, racism, persecution, exclusion and prejudice. Highlighting the negative impact of Channel 4’s ‘My Big fat Gypsy Wedding’, he gave an opinion that many of the GRT communities are just not like the people portrayed in the programme and it gave the wrong impression having focused on Irish travellers only which is just one aspect of this marginalised community.

What struck us about the training was the opportunity to raise awareness within our Trust and involve these communities. The best way to do this is to go to the communities, a problem in itself as people are so wary that we have to work at building relationships first.

After the training we talked about how to take this further having been so impressed with the course content and quality of the trainers and plan to raise awareness with other staff about the issues faced by GRT communities. We would like to try to reduce some of the stigma associated by telling others about this invaluable training.

And a final pause for thought…

GRT communities are five times more likely to have health problems than other groups and 20 times more likely to have experienced the death of a child and 80% face mental health issues.

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Response from Catherine Conchar, Head of Equality & Diversity, Equality & Diversity, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust

Hi Janzq3

Thank you for your posting. I am really glad that you enjoyed the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) Awareness Training. You gave a very informative and honest account of your training experience which is very much appreciated. I hope it encourages other staff, governors, involvement volunteers etc to attend future training sessions and/or learn more about the rich and varied culture of our GRT Communities.

Very little positive information is heard in the media about people from GRT communities and having such informed knowledge enables us to challenge the stereotypes and prejudices we often see and hear, helping create a society which is more understanding and supportive of one another.

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