Helping People to Help Themselves

Helping People to Help Themselves: How one Limerick Traveller Woman Responded to her Community’s Needs During the COVID Crisis! 

By Miriam Kerins; who finds out it’s all about risk reduction and creating awareness 

A support initiative, which has been set up to help Limerick Travellers by Limerick Travellers to address issues facing the community around the current COVID-19 health crisis has, through its ‘go fund me’ page managed to raise an impressive €3,400 in just over three days. 

The initiative was spearheaded by Traveller woman and community activist Margaret O’Brien, whom, upon noticing the lack of representation and the absence of an official support organisation in the county for Travellers decided to take matters into her own hands and selflessly volunteered her services as an advocate. “It was brought to my attention that the people were requesting basic items like sanitation packs to help them during this crisis. I contacted the council and the HSE; however, they said they were not obliged to provide sanitation products.” Says Margaret, adding, “People are under financial pressure and I decided to set up a support group on a voluntary basis to try and address the needs of my community.” 

Wasting no time, Margaret decided to carry out a needs assessment via a questionnaire which involved a band of 30 other local Traveller women (all volunteers), who liaised with families around issues such as food, sanitation packs, supports around keeping kiddies busy with vital activity packs, and items that would help with students’ all-important school work assignments etc., Top of the list however were sanitation packs, with Margaret saying “There are a lot of vulnerable Travellers who may be elderly or may have underlying health and respiratory conditions and we found that all families needed sanitation packs. I’m very grateful to everyone who donated, and to the various organisations such as Limerick Mid-West Campaign, Star Brite and North Star Family, Tusla, Northside family Resource Centre, ADAPT, Paul Partnership and ABC to name but a few.” 

The ‘go fund me’ page has now been taken down, however, for readers who wish to donate or who wish to find support, information is available on the group’s Facebook page at Limerick Travellers’ Covid 19 Community Support Group. The Travellers of Limerick Support Group are are also planning to setup an official organisation which aims to continue on the success of its current initiative, so keep an eye on their social media for future updates.

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