Offaly Traveller Movement Spearheads Collaborative Project to Strengthen Ties with TUSLA and Traveller Community

In a bid to foster stronger relationships between the Tusla agency and the Traveller community, the Offaly Traveller Movement (OTM) partnered with the Laois Traveller Action Group (LTAG) and Tusla to launch a groundbreaking project. Funded by the Dormant Accounts Fund, the initiative aimed to bridge gaps and enhance understanding between family support services and Travellers.

The project comprised three key activities strategically designed to promote cohesion and mutual respect. These activities included joint women’s groups in Portarlington, a youth group initiative across LTAG and OTM, and comprehensive Cultural Awareness training facilitated by OTM.

Over several weeks, dedicated individuals like OTM social worker Aislinn Daly, LTAG Community Development worker Jules Fitzpatrick, and Laois/Offaly PPFS managers Audrey and Lorna O’Reilly collaborated closely. Together, they engaged with participants in various creative workshops and discussions aimed at fostering understanding and trust.

One highlight of the project was the involvement of mothers who, under the guidance of art therapist Judy Irwin, crafted beautiful family tree art frames. These workshops served as a platform to introduce Tusla staff support services to the women, facilitating meaningful interactions and information exchange about Tusla and Traveller culture.

Additionally, workshops with youth groups in Laois and Offaly, led by Aine Mahon, provided an avenue for young people to express their cultural identity and articulate their needs to service providers. Notably, Alicia McDonagh and Cordelia Joyce from OTM created a striking cultural awareness poster, further amplifying the voices of Traveller youth.

Following these initiatives, Tusla staff committed to participating in Cultural Awareness Training provided by OTM, aiming to enhance their understanding of Traveller culture and promote anti-racism and anti-discrimination practices within the agency.

The culmination of this collaborative effort was celebrated on December 6th at Dunamaise Portlaoise. The event, attended by key stakeholders including families, school staff, and Tusla representatives, provided a platform to reflect on the project’s achievements and share insights gained through the process.

Notably, the cultural awareness posters created by Alicia McDonagh and Cordelia Joyce are now prominently displayed in Tusla buildings, symbolising a commitment to inclusivity and cultural sensitivity within the agency.

Looking ahead, Offaly Traveller Movement remains dedicated to continuing this interagency collaboration into 2024. Plans include further training sessions and co-facilitation of Traveller parenting programs, ensuring sustained efforts towards fostering understanding and cooperation between Tusla and the Traveller community.



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