13 June 2011
Academics from Canterbury Christ Church University joined members of the Gypsy Council, and local and national Government representatives, for a unique conference looking in to the overall health of Gypsy and Traveller communities.
Mayor and Mayoress of Swale attending The Road to Health and Wellbeing Conference with Angie Jones (second left) and Professor Annmarie Ruston (third right)
The Road to Health and Wellbeing Conference was hosted by the Sylvia Dunn Centre, an organisation that supports Gypsy and Traveller communities in the South East, and a community partner of Canterbury Christ Church University. It highlighted work recently carried out by the University’s Professor Annmarie Ruston and the Centre specifically looking at how current health services could be made more inclusive towards the Gypsy and Traveller communities.
Angie Jones, from the Sylvia Dunn Centre, said: “We would like to thank the Lord Mayor and Mayoress of Swale, as well as representatives from the Department of Health, Eastern and Costal Kent NHS, Kent Police and many other local groups for attending.
“We organised the conference to highlight the recent work carried out between the Sylvia Dunn Centre and Canterbury Christ Church University. It gave us the chance to show how health services and preventative programmes can easily be made more inclusive for Gypsy and Traveller communities and provide a better service that can make a substantial difference to their health.”
Professor Annmarie Ruston, Head of the Centre for Health and Social Care Research at Canterbury Christ Church University, said: “The conference was a great success and we hope we have demonstrated that by acknowledging the different beliefs of Gypsies and Travellers you can devise a health promotion training programme that will enable communities to gain a better understanding of their health problems.
“The culture of Gypsy and Traveller communities is distinct and diverse and current health services do not take into account their different attitudes and beliefs, which makes it very hard for them to trust and use the health services on offer. This in turn leads to worryingly lower levels of reported good health compared to other social groups.
“The average life expectancy of someone in a Gypsy or Travellers community is 10-12 years less than in the general population and 42% have a long term illness, and understanding healthy lifestyles and uptake of preventive programmes is low. It is important that we address these issues and try to erase these differences in experiences for the Gypsy and Traveller communities.”
As a result of the project two Gypsy and Traveller community members were trained and are now employed by the NHS as health trainers for their communities. Professor Ruston will also lead on the publication of a report later this summer that will recommend policy changes to health provisions for the Gypsy and Traveller communities.
The project was funded by the South East Costal Communities (SECC), a HEFCE funded programme aimed at enabling local communities to benefit from the knowledge and expertise contained within local universities to build their public health capacity. Universities were partnered with community groups to lead projects aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of the community.
Notes to Editor
Canterbury Christ Church University
Canterbury Christ Church University is a modern university with a particular strength in higher education for the public services.
With nearly 18,000 students, and five campuses across Kent, its courses span a wide range of academic and professional expertise.
- In 2010 the Faculty of Education received top grades in its Ofsted report for primary, secondary and post-compulsory programmes, together with its employment-based routes into teaching. The University’s primary provision has the unique record of having been awarded the highest Ofsted grades in all inspections since 1996.
- Over 90 per cent of our graduates gain employment or are in further study in the first six months after graduating.
- Along with over a thousand undergraduate, postgraduate and professional training courses on offer, we are also home to world-leading and internationally recognised research in Education, History, Music and Sports Related Studies.
- Canterbury Christ Church University was founded in 1962 by the Church of England as a teacher training college.