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Advice for young Travellers during the COVID-19 pandemic

Learn more about keeping yourself and your family safe during the pandemic


Written by Geraldine McDonnell and posted in news


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COVID 19 (Coronavirus) has caused worry and stress for a lot of us young Travellers. The government and HSE have told us that we need to stay socially distanced from our family and friends. If we have COVID-19 symptoms (a cough or fever) or have a serious health condition, then we need to self-isolate.

This is easier said than done for Travellers who are living on sites or sharing overcrowded accommodation with no access to running water. The Irish government has recognised that Travellers are more at risk of catching COVID-19 because of our living conditions and because many of us have long term health conditions like diabetes or asthma. Travellers are a priority group which means that we can be tested for COVID-19 (Coronavirus) quickly. 

If you think you might have COVID 19:

  • Call your GP (doctor) and let them know that you are a Traveller
  • Tell your GP what your symptoms are
  • Let your GP know if you live in an overcrowded space
  • If you are told to self-isolate let your GP know if this is not possible

Advice for young Travellers during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic

How can I protect myself and my family from COVID 19 (coronavirus)?

We can all take steps to make sure that we keep ourselves and our families safe during this time.

Social distancing is the best way you can help to protect both yourself and your family. This means you have to stay 6 feet (two metres) away from people you don’t live with. It also means staying at home as much as you can. Make sure to wash your hands before you leave your trailer or house and wash your hands again as soon as you get home.

You can find more information on how to practice social distancing here and how to wash your hands here. Pavee Point also some advice from other Travellers here. You can also ask your local Traveller organisation or Traveller Primary Health Care Worker for advice.

Can I visit family that I don’t live with?

No. You can’t visit your family until the government says it is safe. For now you can meet three other people outside but you have to stay two metres away from them and can only meet them for a short time. You still have to stay away from vulnerable Travellers which means pregnant women, older Travellers, like your grandparents or people who have a health condition.

You can make sure that your family are okay by calling them and asking them if they need anything. You can leave their shopping or messages outside their front door. By doing all of this you can keep your family safe and well.

Can I go to funerals or family gatherings?

For now only 10 people can go to a funeral and they must stay six feet (two metres) away from each other. You can’t hug and you can’t shake hands with anyone else.

Funerals are really important to us Travellers. We know it will be really hard for you not to go to a funeral. There is no shame in not going to a funeral. We can have a memorial when it is safe for people we love who have died. Remember that we are doing this to protect each other and make sure that we all stay well and healthy. If you need more advice on funerals or bereavement you can find information here.

Remember to support someone if they have lost a family member. Ring them and listen to them. If you have lost someone make sure to talk about it and how you are feeling.

What is going to happen with my school exams?

The Junior Cert is cancelled. The Leaving Cert is also cancelled. Your school will give you a predicted grade instead. If you are not happy with the grade you can sit the Leaving Cert exam later when it is safe. Try to keep up with your schoolwork as much as you can. If you need support contact your your local Traveller organisation.

How can I mind my nuck during this time?

If you are worried about your mental health at this time there is nothing to be ashamed of. Remember to focus on what you can control, like washing your hands and keeping your distance. Keep a routine. Get some sleep. Try and exercise.

It is important that if you are feeling low or down in yourself that you talk to someone about it. Talk to a friend or a family member that you trust. If you would like to talk to someone else outside your family there are supports that you can ring or text. 

  • Traveller Counselling Service: Call 086 308 1476 or email travcounselling@hotmail.com
  • SpunOut.ie offers a free 24/7 text line to help young people who may be experiencing difficulties in their lives. The service is completely private. A volunteer will offer you advice on any problems or worries you might have. Text SPUNOUT to 086 1800 280 to use this service.

Are there any support services I can contact if I need to?

  • You can get information from Pavee Point on this link
  • Travellers can get support with self-isolation if needed. For information you can ring or text the National Traveller Helpline on 083 100 6300
  • For more advice visit Exchange House or you can call them seven days a week from 9am-5pm on 01 872 1094

Author

Geraldine McDonnell is a Traveller Mental Health Worker in Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre and has a short message for all young Travellers reading this article;

“Hi all, I hope you’re all doing well and looking after yourselves during this time. It is great to see SpunOut sharing articles for young Travellers by young Travellers because as many of you know we have a large population of young Travellers under 25 who need this information.

It’s important that we all remember both during these times and after COVID-19 that we all need to look after our mental health. I hope you have found this article useful. If you need more information you can contact me through info@paveepoint.ie. Take care.

Geraldine McDonnell”.

Geraldine McDonnell
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Published May 21st2020
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.
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