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roma support

From February 2019 ARTS became aware that Bulgarian Roma families were coming to live in the Armagh area.  By April 2019 it became clear that there was a crisis, public health professionals, workers for homeless organisations and education professionals witnessed concerns around poor living conditions, food safety, and general health and well-being of adults and children. 


Service providers noted a fear of contacting the services responsible for fear of reprisal. ARTS came together with Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon District Council (Good Relations) (ABCDC) Southern Health and Social Care Trust (SHSCT), Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE), Education Authority (EA), Jobs and Benefits, Community Advice and Migrant Centre NI and formed a multi-agency working group to address the situation.


A Bulgarian Roma clinic was set up by this multi-agency working group every Friday to support the Roma community to meet their basic needs GP and Dental registration, accommodation, welfare information, employability information, education registration, immigration advice and much more for example setting up a bank account, tackling unfair treatment, tackling exploitation, explaining how life in Northern Ireland works, informing parents of services for their family in the area, working closely with key services such as PSNI highlighting hate crime and racism


With regards to the Roma community, we observe that no other organisation is in the position to act as an anchor group other than ARTS. .Our first priority is to publish an Initial Needs Assessment to determine the Roma profile in Armagh and the surrounding catchment area and to identify key action points. 


This information will give us a clear strategy on how we move forward and will allow us put down the foundations while we work to sustain further funding for a Roma Support Group within our service, and it will furthermore recognise the interconnection between Traveller and Roma objectives.

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