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C.E.A.R.T. celebrates 25 years in existence

C.E.A.R.T celebrated its 25th birthday last week with a visit from Minister for Health, Simon Harris.

Liz O’Brien, coordinator of Wicklow County Primary Health Care (under Wicklow Travellers’ Group) who are based in C.E.A.R.T., commended the efforts undertaken by everyone involved.

Set up by Sister Caitriona, a Dominican nun, after working abroad in South Africa in the mid-1990s, WTG provides “an outreach service for the whole of County Wicklow to all Traveller families in the area,” Liz said.

“We work with 260 families and provide information and support on all aspects of family health; women and men’s health, children’s health, children’s immunisation records, and outbreak of diseases.”

“Our whole idea, if you like, is to increase the use of services. It’s to increase access to services, and to encourage service providers to act in a more culturally appropriate way, and in a non-discriminatory way,” she added.

When Sr Caitriona returned from South Africa, she had the idea of working with Travellers. “A long journey began towards getting this building, setting up support services and encouraging leadership skills, and standing up for rights,” Liz said.

There are currently 18 community healthcare workers who are members of the Travelling community, all of whom have been trained in primary health care. Aside from this, the building hosts a variety of other services including a creche, youth and afterschool clubs, and Shuttle Knit.

Overall, Liz was happy with how the celebrations for the anniversary went. “Everyone was engaged,” she said, “it was very much a community effort. There are 35 workers in the building so everyone came together to put the event on.”

Similar to everything in the C.E.A.R.T. building, the event was conducted “in a very loving community spirit.”

Also featured was an exhibition of old wagons and elements of cultural history, which to Liz “was a good celebration and reminder of Traveller culture, and that’s what it’s about.”

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