Here at STAG we’ve had a really enjoyable time celebrating Gypsy, Roma & Traveller History Month (GRTHM) over June. We particularly enjoyed the London-wide event at City Hall, where we got to see many of our partners from London Gypsies & Travellers, the Traveller Movement, Roma Support Group and the GLA outside of a Zoom call. Even better, a lot of our Women’s and Youth Group members, as well as our Chair and Treasurer were able to come along and a great time was had by all.

Last month we showed STAG survey results demonstrating the disturbingly high proportion of Travellers who we work with who have experienced hate crime or discrimination because of their ethnicity. We hope that more chances to share their culture and understand their history over GRTHM  reduces these levels of discrimination and hate.

Now as GRTHM comes to an end, we’re looking forward to our health & well-being project (funded by the National Lottery Community Fund), which is due to begin on 1st July. The project is named after Garvey Harris, STAG’s Trustee who very sadly died of COVID in January 2021. Garvey had a particular interest in mental health and well-being and we hope with this project we can demonstrate activities and ways of working that reduce the health inequalities GRT communities suffer.

However, it’s a disturbingly low baseline from which we begin work. At the beginning of July to launch this project, we will produce our report on the results of the last annual STAG survey (responses collected between October 2021  and March 2022) . It shows that the general physical health and mental well-being of our respondents from GRT communities was at a disproportionately low level compared with the general population, but that these health inequalities have been made worse by the COVID pandemic.

We intend to repeat this survey over the next four years so we can compare the difference this new project makes to our clients’ health and well-being. In its first year our clients told us they wanted to do more work on improving access to mental health services and cooking healthy food on a budget. We’ll be arranging activities based on these needs, improving our relationships with health and care providers and regularly evaluating how we re doing, so we can learn what really works.

As GRT communities suffer some of the worst health outcomes of any, we are hoping that our Garey Harris health & well-being project will provide  co-produced, evaluated solutions that improve the health of, not only the communities we work with, but of other communities who suffer similar disadvantages or discrimination.

Please get in touch if you’d like to know more or think you can support us in taking this work forward. We think you’ll enjoy the journey. Or come along and talk to us at Healthwatch Southwark’s Community Health event on 21st July 12 – 2:30pm at St Peter’s Church, Liverpool Grove, SE17 2HH.