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Leeds health plan for travelling community

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A groundbreaking project to improve the wellbeing of people from the travelling community has received funding to continue for another year.

Health bosses in Leeds will continue to fund the Gypsy and Traveller Outreach scheme, launched to improve access to NHS and social care services in the city.

It means Community Outreach Nurse Liz Keat will continue her work with the community, which has an average life expectancy of just 50.

She said: “My role is about looking at the whole person, assessing their needs as fully as possible and not just looking at one bit of their story.

“I use a family-centred approach, focusing on the strengths within a family to work out how health services can adapt to compliment this.

“My aim is always to build relationships, and trust, in order to open doors to wider health support.”

The project, based at the Cottingley Springs traveller site in South Leeds, was launched by the NHS, Leeds City Council‘s Public Health Team and the gypsy and traveller-led organisation Leeds GATE.

Helen Jones, Chief Executive for Leeds GATE, said: “Our communities face some of the worst health outcomes in the UK with local research suggesting a life expectancy of 50 years of age in comparison to 78 for the settled population.

“The discrimination and exclusion faced by our members and the barriers in accessing basic healthcare services directly impacts on this outcome.“

Sue Wilkinson, Commissioning Manager for NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group, added: “We have learnt a great deal already that will support our future approach to planning and funding services for those who belong to some of our most marginalised communities.”