In 2012, National Traveller MABS published the report Issues of Personal Finance within the Traveller Community

The report was a result of the Local Area Development (LAD) work undertaken by National Traveller MABS during the years 2007 - 2011. LAD work aimed to promote the development of a collaborative working relationship between the local MABS, Travellers and other relevant local organisations.

Issues of Personal Finance within the Traveller Community’ compiled feedback from 37 Local Area Development (LAD) meetings and four Traveller-specific focus groups across Ireland. At each meeting, participants discussed the financial and social issues Travellers faced and made suggestions as to how Travellers, MABS and other local support services could work better together. The majority of the participants were MABS staff, local service providers, Travellers and Traveller community workers.

Issues of Personal Finance within the Traveller Community identified 27 recommendations to improve Travellers access to, and use of, services including MABS and financial services.


The report confirmed the experience of National Traveller MABS, that a lack of trust and often fear exists within the Traveller community of institutions and organisations that are not familiar to the community. The importance of word of mouth as a powerful means of communication among Travellers was frequently cited. This was identified as a vital tool for any organisation in gaining the trust of the community. In the focus groups, the importance of ‘hearing about’ something from another member of the Community came up repeatedly.

In addressing this, the report recommended that National Traveller MABS explore:

The viability of a Traveller Key Worker Programme to support both the local MABS and the Traveller community in addressing issues of financial exclusion.

Key Workers, it was suggested, would be members of the Traveller community. Their role would be to raise awareness of MABS and other support services such as the CIS, and encourage Travellers to avail of such services if needed. Additionally they would provide information on how to access basic financial services such as banks and credit unions.

Aim of the Key Worker Programme

To increase Traveller knowledge and use of -MABS, other advice services such as the CIS, and basic financial services such as the credit union.


  1. Develop knowledge skills within the community ( Traveller Key worker) to promote access to and use of MABS, CIS and financial services by the Traveller community
  2. Provide relevant information in order to support the Traveller community in accessing local services
  3. Develop a good local relationship between Travellers, MABS, CIS, and local financial services
  4. Record data on issues arising within the community, advice and information given and referrals made to services providers such as MABS and the CIS

Establishment of the Key Worker Programme

Identifying Key Workers Due to the absence of funding it was acknowledged that the Key Worker role would be undertaken on a voluntary basis. Additionally all training and support for the Key Worker would be provided by National Traveller MABS from existing budgets.

With such constraints in mind and following consultation with the National Traveller MABS Consultative Forum[1] and a number of Primary Health Care for Traveller Projects (PHCTP) it was agreed that Traveller Community Health Care Workers[2] would be the most appropriate people to undertake the role of Key Workers.

Traveller Community Health Care Workers are members of the Traveller community, who work within the community providing health advice and information. They are respected and trusted within the community, are highly trained and deliver a valued service in the provision of health information to the Traveller community. It was suggested that Traveller Community Health Care workers could expand the information they already provide to the community to include information on MABS and other services such as the CIS and basic financial services. In doing so they wold take on the additional role of National Traveller MABS Key Workers.

[1]The Consultative Forum is voluntary forum established by National Traveller MABS. It is comprised of a number of established Traveller groups nationwide. The Forum advise National Traveller MABS on issues of finance concerning the Traveller community.

[2]Traveller Health Care Workers work under the local Primary Health Care for Traveller Projects (PHCTP). There are over 40 PHCTP’s nationwide. Traveller Health Care Workers are also often referred to as Primary Health Care Workers or Health Care Workers.


National Traveller MABS were aware of the commitment that Traveller Health Care Workers were making in adding the role of Key Worker to their already heavy workload. Because of the commitment, it was agreed to only pilot the project in 4 areas- Balbriggan, Sligo, Wicklow and Cork. While geographically the areas were widespread, all were situated in urban areas.


Training was undertaken by National Traveller MABS and, were possible, the local MABS and the local CIS. Local participation was seen as crucial in fostering a good relationship and establishing a clear process whereby the Key Worker would feel confident contacting local services.

Training was undertaken over a number of weeks and was centred around the money management manual “A Way of Life- Community Education Training”.

Topics covered included

  1. Role of MABS including the MABS helpline- where possible local MABS were involved in training
  2. Role of the CIS and where possible the local CIS were involved in training
  3. Role of other local services such as the Credit Union etc. This would help the Key Worker channel queries to the service best equipped to help their client
  4. Managing Money
  5. Control & Budgeting - including basic budgeting – tips & tricks
  6. Income Maximisation
  7. Saving & Banking including awareness of paperwork such as such as the ML10 form, Credit Union application forms, Household budget forms.
  8. Borrowing
  9. Client confidentiality

Providing support materials

Once the training was completed the Key Workers were provided with information packs by National Traveller MABS. The packs contained the following:

  1. Local MABS contact information cards
  2. Contact sheet containing contact info for all local CIS’s
  3. Contact sheet containing contact info for all local Credit unions
  4. Basic Social welfare sheet
  5. Household budget forms
  6. Budgeting sheets
  7. Keep safe and warm booklets with free thermometer
  8. Surviving Christmas leaflets
  9. Budgeting for Communion and Confirmation leaflets
  10. Illegal moneylending leaflet
  11. Spending diaries

Collecting data

Collecting data was acknowledged as an essential element in the role of the Key Worker. Such data would quantify the number of people accessing services locally, would assist in identifying recurring financial issues within the community and would support National Traveller MABS in seeking solutions to such issues.

Therefore National Traveller MABS provided a template to the Coordinator of each participating Primary Health Care for Traveller Projects, to record issues raised with the Key Workers and referrals made by the Key Workers. It was suggested by National Traveller MABS that the log could be kept up on a notice board or given to each Key Worker to fill in. National Traveller MABS it was agreed would collect the data on a monthly basis. The information would be used by National Traveller MABS to identify recurring areas on concern and to identify the number of Travellers accessing services locally.

Evaluation 2015

The Key Worker programme has been in operation for the last 3 years in 4 locations. Each Key Worker project is managed and run locally by the Primary Health Care for Traveller Projects on a voluntary basis. Each project has developed its own system of operation based on local needs and available resources and supports.

National Traveller MABS are indebted to the participating Primary Health Care for Traveller Projects and the Traveller Health Care Workers who have added the Key Worker programme to their already heavy workloads.

National Traveller MABS have had requests from other Primary Health Care for Traveller Projects to establish similar Key Worker projects in their areas.

However we are aware that while the Key Worker Programme has many strengths, the programme needs to be thoroughly evaluated before further expanding.

It is with this in mind that we will be carrying out thorough evaluation of the programme in the first half of 2015.

February 2nd

Briefing paper circulated to all Key Workers to explain the evaluation process. Questionnaire for Key workers also included.

February 5th

Follow up phone call to Key Workers to assess support needed in completing questionnaire either via phone or with visit

February 13th

Deadline for completion of questionnaire… return to National Traveller MABS

March 9th -20th

Discussion with key workers on recommendations being considered by NTMABS

March 27th

Draft report including executive summary ready for consideration by stakeholders

April 24th

Final revisions made on report

May 1st

Report ready for circulation

Published: 30 January 2015