The History & Foundation of B.T.D.G
Blanchardstown Traveller Development Group was founded in 1992 by a number of local people who were concerned about living conditions of Travellers in the Blanchardstown area. In particular the families who were in the Grove Road who were issued with eviction notices for the development of the Blanchardstown Shopping Centre. The group set up a voluntary support group with no funding. It was supported by Parclickstown House, Mulhuddart CDP, and the Blanchardstown Youth Service. Dublin Traveller Educational Development Group and Blanchardstown Area Partnership (B.A.P) have been involved with the group since pre-partnership days.
In 1997 B.A.P employed a Community Development Worker, who was a member of the Traveller community, as development worker to undertake work on behalf of the partnership, to work specifically with the Traveller community. One of the key areas of work was identifying the need to establish an independent local Traveller organisation which was incorporated in 1998.
Blanchardstown Traveller Development Group set out these aims, at its registration as a Limited Company in 1998.
- To combat the poverty experienced by Travellers
- Promote the welfare and human rights of Travellers through the promotion of the recognition of Travellers as a nomadic ethnic group having its own distinctive culture and lifestyle
- To encourage positive interaction between Travellers and the settled community
- To make the settled community aware of the distinct culture of Travellers and their needs arising out of this and the difficulties and problems Travellers face from individuals and society
- To be active in campaigning and lobbying for Travellers’ rights
- To plan, implement, and administer projects that would enhance the circumstances of Travellers in the Blanchardstown area
- To make links with such organizations and groups that share common interests in the welfare of Travellers as a nomadic ethnic group
B.T.D.G employed two workers while The Blanchardstown Area Partnership was part funding the post of a community development worker for the group. The partnership also funded a needs analyses piece of research into the needs of the Traveller community living in Dublin 15.
In 2000 the group received the news that they were to be approved in principle as a Community Development Project. Early in 2001 work on a 3 year plan had commenced and the partnership co-funded this work. The basic principles underlying the work of B.T.D.G included:
- Belief in the validity of Traveller Culture
- A commitment to the community development
- A commitment in working in partnership with members of the Traveller community
- An anti-poverty focus
- Commitment to action
By May 2002 the group had employed a co-ordinator, an administrator, and a Traveller health worker. FÁS granted funding for the first Community Employment Scheme specifically for members of the Traveller Community in Dublin 15.
The need was identified for a women’s training programme. Once again FAS funded this initiative and BTDG employed a full-time Women’s Training coordinator.
The VEC’s Blanchardstown Adult education centre provided many tutors for the courses, including literacy, numeracy, health, arts & crafts, family studies, childcare and intercultural.
The vast majority of staff time is devoted to the ‘planning, implementing and administering projects’ part of the subsidiary objectives described above. These projects are the Local Training Initiative (LTI), and the Community Employment Scheme (CE).
The Primary Health Care (PHC) project in BTDG continues to be a support to mainstream providers locally while developing new links in the health provision area. The BTDG programme has supported other programmes in developing targeted responses to Traveller health needs.
Other parts of the stated aims of the organisation can only be delivered with small grants and occasional opportunities to make connections and deliver the message of BTDG.
BTDG has had one outreach worker in the organisation for a number of years focusing on the needs of a small number of families. At the end of 2014 we gained another outreach worker and have since developed an outreach policy for the organisation. We have also recently established an outreach team.
However, the uncomfortable gap between what needs to be done, in order to deliver the aims of the organisation, and what is actually being done needs to be acknowledged by all of us and some creative ways of closing the gap need to be worked out.
The BTDG would like to acknowledge the difficult life experience of some of the Traveller families living in the area, the lack of opportunities in employment and education and the lack of involvement in the social and cultural life of Dublin 15. We would also like to acknowledge the Travellers who have participated in BTDG programmes and especially those who have achieved and excelled through the work of the BTDG.
The project has raised its profile in the community and built up a large team of wonderful people that do an amazing job day to day. Everyone has their individual role in this workplace that ensures everyone has their own part to play in the B.T.D.G Family.