Over 100 Traveller men from around the country gathered today at 15 Acres Phoenix Park for Pavee Point’s annual Traveller Men’s Health Day to promote good physical and mental health as part of Men’s Health Week.

“It’s great to see Traveller Men’s Health Day back in the calendar after COVID,” said Pavee Point Men’s Health Worker,  Michael Collins,  “There’s been great interest and Traveller men are really interested in getting out there and linking in with other Traveller groups.

Getting health checks makes you a winner. ©Photo by Derek Speirs

Traveller Men’s Health Day is an initiative of the Eastern Region Traveller HealthUnit, co-ordinated by Pavee Point Traveller & Roma Centre on behalf of the HSE.

“It’s important after COVID that Traveller men get back into regular health checks and keeping an eye on things like blood pressure, blood sugar levels and cancer screening as those things all affect Traveller health.

Michael Collins, Pavee Point presents Pat Stokes from the Longford Team with the player of the day awared. Longford also won the day’s competition. ©Photo by Derek Speirs

“Mental health is also a major issue for Traveller men and there is a growing awareness of how important it is to meet up again and it’s great to see that Traveller organisations can support this.   Men can exchange experiences and find out where they can get mental health supports if necessary.”

Traveller Men’s Health Day focuses on a soccer tournament but also integrates health checks from the Marie Keating Foundation, The Samaritans, D17 Act Drug and Alcohol Service, Health & Wellbeing and Public Health Nurses.

This year also included a number of Roma Men’s Teams taking part in the day.  “Roma men can feel excluded from a lot of services and associations so today is an important day for meeting with other men, getting active, getting health checks and getting information and contacts,” said Tica Muntean, Community Development Worker with the Roma Programme at Pavee Point.

Great to see Roma men participating in the day. ©Photo by Derek Speirs

“To have targeted events like this including Roma lets people know that they are wanted and are included and provides real supports,” added Mr. Muntean, “As sports are important for physical and mental health. It’s also good to see the solidarity between Traveller and Roma men.”

Traveller and Roma Men have a low health status with Traveller men facing a suicide rate that is 7 times the national average and 50% of Roma men report not having access to a GP.    Pavee Point has recently established a Roma Health Project, supported by the HSE, to help address the health inequalities faced by Roma.

Traveller Primary Health Projects and Traveller Health Units, which work in partnership with the HSE, are vital in getting targeted health information out to Travellers and in raising awareness on health issues impacting on the community.   The HSE confirmed this in their National COVID-19 Traveller Service User Experience Survey which reported 86% of Travellers accessing COVID-19 health information from Traveller organisations/THUs.

Great to see the traditional sport of throwing the horseshoe also part of the day. ©Photo by Derek Speirs

“We are looking forward to the long awaited publication of the National Traveller Health Action Plan,” said Michael Collins, “which Mental Health Minister, Mary Butler TD recently announced would be published before the summer recess.  This plan is urgently needed to support and address Traveller health inequalities and resources need to be made available.”

The Roscommon team getting their health checks. ©Photo by Derek Speirs

A special thank you goes to the Football Association of Ireland for their support and to Sports Against Racism Ireland.  

Thansk also to the Traveller women who supported today’s event. ©Photo by Derek Speirs