What was the issue that required change?
Gypsy Travellers are amongst the most deprived population group living in Scotland. A report looking at the health needs of Gypsy Travellers in Fife found poor literacy skills, low expectations and perceptions of prejudice along with higher levels of mental health issues, substance issues and diabetes. Regular health checks are offered in the sites and it is known that a social prescribing service would be welcomed within the settled encampment sites in Fife.
How did you tackle it?
The project’s aim was to introduce a social prescribing service in a settled Gypsy Traveller encampment site in Fife. The team arranged an afternoon chat, and distributed flyers around the site to encourage interest. Several families showed an interest in the idea of a regular meet up, and the concept of a listening service. Additionally, a vaccination session was held for primary school age children, with the fire service providing home safety advice and to fit smoke alarms, and a men-only session dealt with issues around drug abuse, benefit sanctions and physical illness.
What was the outcome?
The overall result has been positive. One of the most important aspects was the building of trust, with an initial lack of trust in outsiders gradually broken down to acceptance. It became clear that the Gypsy Travellers welcomed the visits by the nurses, highlighting them as being different in that they were willing to listen, and to come to the traveller site, as opposed to making them travel outwith. In a physical sense, many were pleased that the project had led to improvements in the way they lived, for example lined curtains to keep in the heat and smoke alarms for safety. One respondent welcomed the fact that due to their advice on health eating he had lost a stone in weight.