Crucial COVID19 Service Must Continue For Roma Families And Children

A report from Covid-19 Roma Response Partnership of HSE Social Inclusion and ngos says the COVID-19 Response for Vulnerable People (CRVP) service needs to be part of the ‘new normal’ to ensure a humanitarian response to vulnerable Roma families, in Dublin

Maxine Radcliffe

At the launch of a report highlighting the positive work of the CRVP, Maxine Radcliffe, Service Director said:  “We need to build on the learning of the CRVP project and continue to develop partnerships and a collaborative approach between key state agencies and NGOs to create a sustainable approach to supporting vulnerable Roma families and children in Ireland,” said Maxine Radcliffe, Service Director CRVP and we want to highlight this to the HSE, Dept of health and housing services in the city.”

The CRVP provides quarantine and isolation facilities but crucially links vulnerable Roma families in with others support services and 40% of all   service users are children. The CRVP is due to close next month.

Homelessness a Key Issue

Key learning from the CRVP shows that housing and homelessness are key issues for Roma families availing of the service. Discharge data from the service highlights that rough sleeping, the imminent risk of homelessness and extremely poor, overcrowded or non-compliant housing were central issues faced by Roma households.

Currently for people entering the country who need to access emergency accommodation there is a need to quarantine for 7 days. There is a fear that without the CRVP, Roma and other vulnerable families will not be able to access emergency accommodation. 

“Evidence suggests that without support from both NGO’s and the CRVP discharge team, the risk of rough sleeping for households is very high,” said Ciara Carty of Focus Ireland, “despite Roma families having secured employment.”

Health Inequalities

The report also highlights the health inequalities faced by vulnerable Roma and states people using the service such as much higher levels of untreated chronic disease.

“Some of those who use the service may require additional health care and related supports, for example access to GPs or nursing services and interpretation services” said Dr Angela Skuce of Safetynet Primary Care, the medical charity.

Future Planning Needed

“As a partnership, we believe there is an urgent need to build on the targeted response delivered by CRVP to ensure that vital supports remain available to the Roma community after the Covid-19 response has been stepped down,” said Dr Skuce at the launch.  

“Roma who call the National Roma Infoline are usually in very difficult circumstances, and we have received queries about health, social welfare and employment, housing and accommodation, and poverty” ,” said Danut Nae of Cairde who operate the COVID-19 Roma Infoline, funded by the HSE.

“We need to ensure a step-down plan is in place before the closure of the CRVP facility, outlining clear pathways for Roma families both in housing and health supports,” said Noel Neenan of Crosscare.

Roma Rights are Human Rights

“These Roma families are struggling,” added Gabi Muntean of Pavee Point “We need to acknowledge Roma people’s rights to a place to live, healthcare and to be able to participate in society.  Already Roma face high levels of racism and discrimination and here we have an opportunity to do something positive. We need positive measures to come from COVID-19”.

Gabi Muntean