Katie McDonald, Health and Wellbeing Lead Officer read out the following question which had been received from, a member of the gypsy and traveller community and Buckinghamshire resident:
I am a traveller living in Buckinghamshire, my family has been directly affected by Covid-19 as my husband is in the extremely vulnerable group and has been shielding throughout. I am employed as a family support worker in a school so I am also acutely aware of the negative impact this has had as far as the education of my own children and others from the traveller/gypsy community.
It has been extremely difficult for us as a family. As a shielding family we have been entitled to support from the Government but this has not been forthcoming. We were told we were entitled to weekly food parcels and throughout the lockdown we have received only one government funded food parcel. I have one child of school age and she has been struggling to complete her home learning as expected throughout lockdown. We have no internet or computer and for weeks she struggled to do this using only her phone.
I have been contacted by traveller families who are concerned, not only about the safety of their children when they return to school but also how the impact of the barriers to home learning they have faced will affect the long term education of their children. I am also concerned about the cramped and overcrowded conditions.
I want to ask the Health and Wellbeing Board if consideration has been given to the many traveller/gypsy families living in Buckinghamshire in the areas I have raised and recognition from professionals of the risks to the gypsy and traveller community.
K McDonald advised that she had spoken with the resident who had emphasised that she requested acknowledgement from professionals that the gypsy and traveller community be afforded the same focus and attention for their health and wellbeing outcomes as that of minority and ethnic groups and accountability for engagement with the gypsy and traveller groups also be taken. The Public Health team had asked her to be involved in the listening exercise and behavioural insight work being carried out by the team. The question and full response would be appended to the minutes. K McDonald highlighted the following points:
- The community hubs had been provided with the resident’s contact details in case there were any further food access issues.
- The Housing Team had sent a letter to all known Travelling and Roma community locations in April advising that they should contact their local housing department if families needed to self-isolate or if there were any issues with accommodation.
- The HWB was pleased that the resident’s daughter had been provided with a laptop; current government guidance now stated that all home learning would end this term and all pupils would be required to return to school in September 2020.
- The HWB was aware of mental wellbeing issues and was taking these seriously in recovery plans.
G Williams clarified that 500 emergency food parcels had been delivered in the county alongside various other foodbanks. Generally the food provision in Buckinghamshire had been high and it was distressing to hear of the difficulties experienced by the gypsy and traveller community, however, the situation was being taken seriously. J Baker advised that Healthwatch Bucks had also engaged with the traveller community.