Overview: Solace Women’s Aids – Irish Traveller Women and Domestic Violence Conference, October 2009

Publication type: Report

Author: Other

Themes: Health and Social Care

The day was opened by The Irish Ambassador Mr Bobby McDonagh with a heartfelt speech focusing on the need to work with Irish Traveller Families affected by domestic violence and the valuable work that is undertaken by organisations like Solace Women’s Aid and supported through funding from the Irish Government.

The audience of 100 practitioners came from a range of agencies and organisations spanning both the public and voluntary sector. Joining them were a number of Irish Traveller women and their children who made vital contributions throughout the day talking publicly about their experiences, some of them for the first time, and also engaging with delegates during breaks and workshops.

The conference chair Mary Mason, Director of Solace Women’s Aid introduced each speaker below:

  • Bernie O’Roarke, Solace Women’s Aid.
  • Irish Traveller Women Stories – Living with and Surviving Domestic Violence.
  • Dr Margaret Greenfields, New Buckinghamshire University.
  • Eileen Walsh, Clinical Psychologist, NHS.
  • Michelle Morgan, Central and Cecil Incorporating Cara Irish Housing.
  • Father Joe Brown and Yvonne MacNamara Irish Traveller Movement.
  • Sarah Mann, Friends, Families and Travellers.
  • Davina James-Hanman, Director, Greater London Domestic Violence Project.

A small group of Irish Traveller Women who had worked effectively with services and rebuilt their lives to live abuse free bravely shared their stories with the audience. Each individual story recounted numerous incidents of severe violence and incredible courage. The testaments were moving, shocking and inspiring and an invaluable reminder of the need for more specialist services to reach out to this tightly knit community to reduce the levels of violence experienced by women and their children.

Experts in the field provided valuable insight and knowledge and drew on their considerable and wide ranging experience to enable all practitioners to improve their work with this very vulnerable group and look to the future to ensure the work continues and develops.

The afternoon workshops enabled practitioners to share their own professional experiences. Recommendations were identified to collate and submit to policy and decision makers to improve practice and promote consistent work in the UK.

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