Prosper had a fascinating time meeting up with Rachel and Jane at their outreach site in Wakefield.
Leeds GATE are a vibrant community members’ organisation, working with Gypsies and Travellers across West Yorkshire. As an advocacy organisation they support families living on sites and roadside, and their aim is to improve quality of life for Gypsies and Travellers through improving access to homes, health, education, employment, and inclusion in society. They advocate for the community and also individually with individuals or families helping them to access vital services. the direct work they carry out can have positive impacts for the whole and wider family. The advocacy appointments are member led with the focus on what the individual feels is a priority need and they cover a wide range of support needs. Some of these needs are around mental health, welfare rights, accommodation support, accessing general health services.
Gypsies and Travellers are one of the most marginalised ethnic minorities in the UK. Leeds GATE are proud to say that they are led by Romany Gypsies and Irish Travellers – the Chair of the board, 50%+ board members and 50%+ of the staff team are from the community they support.
Gypsies and Travellers are six times more likely to die by suicide, than the general public. again, 50% more (than the general public) Gypsies and Travellers provide over 50 hours of care per week, 18% of Gypsy and Traveller women have experienced premature death of a child, the average life expectancy is 50 years and there is poor heart and lung health. Health advocacy is a large part of their role.
Rachel said that their main job is to liase between the residents and the council. The site is council owned and they pay rent for their plots, but they don’t technically come under social housing and there are a few issues with no schedule of regular maintenance amongst other things. There is a waiting list for the site as being settled has benefits and one of them is that the younger families have more of an education mindset and they are wanting their children to attend school.
Apart from the advocacy, they also run various activities such as a boy’s group, a girl’s group and a women’s group as well as organise medical intervention drop ins by outreach and community nurses.
Prosper awarded a grant for a youth worker and advocate who engages with the young people living on site. It took time, but with patience and by being a regular presence they gained the trust, and the various groups are now well attended. Culturally, there is still a divide between the sexes and the boys are more likely to be playing football and other sports and the girls generally arts and crafts and the staff and volunteers are very sensitive to this.
They are wanting to do more for girls who are after school age, the 16-18 year old’s who are now in limbo. These girls are at risk of mental health problems caused by anxiety and isolation.
To find out more about Leeds GATE, please visit their website: Click Here
Or call: 0113 240 2444