Bridget O Brien is a Traveller Community Health in Kildare. Here she is in the middle of a ‘telethon’. 

Due to COVID-19 restrictions Bridget is keeping in touch with Traveller families by phone and rings around some of the 250 families that the project engages with. 

She checks in and monitor cases within the community and gives out key public health messages.

“COVID-19 has meant huge changes in our work,” explains Bridget, “We can’t visit families at this time so we are staying in touch using telephone, text and social media.  This is the first time we’ve worked this way.

“Some of the people we contact cannot read or write so we communicate using voice messages on What’s App.  We have to be creative in how we work. 

“We have to support people a lot to fill out forms over the phone and then post on the information.

“Making sure families have the right information on COVID19 is one of our main jobs at the moment.  There are a lot of mixed messages and rumours out there so we have to make sure people get the proper information from our project.”

Bridget is one of 4 Community Health Workers along with a Co-Ordinator that make up Kildare Traveller Primary Health Care Project attached to Kildare Traveller Action.

Kildare Travellers Primary Health Care Project is one of 27 Traveller Primary Healthcare Projects operating around the country.

Traveller Primary Community Health Workers are health workers who act as liaison between the Traveller community and health service providers. The All Ireland Traveller Health Study shows 83% of Travellers receive their health information from Traveller Primary Health Care Projects.

The Kildare Traveller Primary Healthcare Project is part of the Eastern Region Traveller Health Unit which covers CHOs 6, 7, & 9. Traveller Health Units prioritise Traveller health concerns and address Traveller health inequalities, on behalf of the Health Service Executive (HSE).