(Pictured: Gypsy Roma and Traveller (GRT) Health Team with Cheryl Wood, GRT Advice and Guidance Officer and Amanda Deadman Action for Carers)
On Thursday 3 June, Children and Family Health Surrey’s Gypsy Roma and Traveller (GRT) Health Team opened a new drop-in clinic to support GRT families across Surrey. The drop-in clinic based at the Astolat Centre in Guildford, included a range of professionals from health, social and voluntary sector services and will be ongoing every month. They spoke with GRT families and supported them with accessing services that they needed, helped with form filling and shared information on social support that they’re entitled to.
Surrey has the fourth largest Gypsy Roma and Traveller population in the UK and these groups struggle to access the usual healthcare services and often have much poorer health as a result. Since the teams formation in March 2019, they have built strong relationships with local GRT families in Surrey, and it’s clear that these vulnerable communities trust the NHS brand and prefer to speak to the GRT nurses who they don’t see as a threat.
The team provide a targeted health outreach programme including mandatory new birth visits, screening and blood pressure checks, dental health advice, sexual health advice and immunisations, as well as routine advice, support and advocacy.
The team also facilitate COVID-19 vaccinations, linking with Public Health England and they recently supported the 0-19 Immunisation teams with a Hepatitis A outbreak at a local Traveller site.
Following the opening of the new drop-in clinic, the team received an inspiring visit from Elaine Goodwin, National Homeless and Inclusion Health Nursing Lead for NHS England and NHS Improvement (pictured left) on Tuesday 8 June. Elaine spent the day with the team learning about the fabulous work the team do to improve health inequalities and supported them with advice and information to manage a new mother and baby unit for asylum seekers.
Lisa Gavin, Clinical Service Manager, Gypsy, Roma Traveller and Inclusion Health was extremely excited and proud of the opening of the new drop-in clinic and said: “It’s fantastic that we’re able to provide a monthly drop-in clinic for GRT families to come and talk to us and get support with anything they might be struggling with. The first clinic was delivered with colleagues from Action for Carers and Surrey Community Action and it’s great for the GRT community to know we’re available each month and they can drop in whenever it suits them without having to make an appointment.
“It was a privilege to meet with Elaine last week and introduce her to our team, sharing details of the innovative ways we’re working to help improve health outcomes across Surrey. Elaine provided great feedback on the work our team are doing to support vulnerable families in the local community and was keen to also hear about the challenges these families can face, which as part of her role she is able to highlight to government ministers.”