National Traveller MABS Key Worker Evaluation Report launched
A report evaluating a programme aimed at improving Travellers’ access to financial services was launched on Monday, 25 April 2016 by National Traveller Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS). At the launch, National Traveller MABS highlighted the challenges faced by Travellers in accessing mainstream financial services, and how financial stress impacts on mental and physical health.
The Key Worker Programme was developed following recognition by National Traveller MABS that fear of unfamiliar institutions and organisations existed among many members of the Traveller community. The importance of word of mouth within the community was identified as a powerful means of breaking this fear. Under the programme, 35 Primary Health Care Workers in six regions promote the use of MABS, Citizens Information Services and other finance-related service providers to the Traveller community.
Margaret Moorehouse, Traveller Community Health Care Worker from Wicklow gave examples of how her role as a Key Worker helped clients in financial distress. "Recently I met a young couple living in an apartment and expecting a new baby. They had fallen into arrears, I advised them to go to MABS because they were in danger of being evicted. They were given an appointment the next day; we drew up a budget to clear the arrears, helped them to claim their social welfare entitlements and contacted the landlord who agreed to the plan".
Angela Black, CEO of the Citizens Information Board called for greater consistency in relation to the provision of caravan loans by local authorities. While all local authorities can provide loans to Travellers who live on halting sites for the purchase or upgrading of caravans, very few are currently doing so. She pledged to work to ensure that local authorities put in place transparent systems for assessing tenants for loans, providing loans, and monitoring repayments as well as providing accessible methods of repayment for borrowers.
To tackle financial exclusion within the Traveller community the report recommends that National Traveller MABS:
- Explore the viability of placing the Key Worker Programme on a national footing
- Develop a comprehensive operating structure for the Key Worker Programme
- Additional Primary Health Care for Traveller Projects should be invited to participate in the Programme only when Recommendations 1 and 2 have been implemented.
To get a copy of the report please email Margaret_collins@mabs.ie.