The TPI is an operational programme of St Stephen’s Green Trust (SSGT), managed by Anne Costello, TPI Coordinator. The initiative was developed by SSGT in 2014 as a response to the particular needs and circumstances of Travellers in prison. It is funded by the SSGT, the Irish Prison Service, the Irish Probation Service and the HSE.
The TPI collaborates with a wide range of community and statutory sector organisations through its Steering Group, which includes Pavee Point, the National Traveller Women’s Forum (NTWF), the Irish Traveller Movement, the Irish Prison Service, the Probation Service, the Irish Penal Reform Trust, Mincéirs Whiden, Exchange House, Traveller Counselling Service, the HSE National Office for Social Inclusion, IASIO (Irish Association for the Social Integration of Offenders), the Irish Red Cross, the Education and Training Board, Traveller Mediation Service, and Parish of the Travellers. It is chaired by Maria Joyce, NTWF.
TPI seeks to embed changes in policy and practice which have a positive influence on Travellers in prison, their families and their communities.
2. Key principles underpinning the strategy
Traveller participation – We recognise that policies and programmes targetted at Travellers will not be effective without the meaningful participation of Travellers at the design, implementation and monitoring stages. We seek to support and facilitate Traveller participation in all aspects of our work.
Relationship building – The importance of developing relationships across all sectors, and the importance of TPI mediating these relationships is acknowledged in this workplan. Unless relationships are effectively fostered change is not likely to be successfully achieved or sustained.
Gender dimension – Imprisonment affects Traveller men and women differently, and women are likely to be impacted more negatively. The Traveller Women in Prison (TWIP) advisory group reviews all actions in this plan for their gender impact, and recommends actions based on this process.
These principles are supported by the SSGT core values of: respect & solidarity, accountability, integrity, and partnership with the grantees and communities we serve.
3. Strategic action areas
We have identified five key action areas, as well as a range of actions (which are undertaken in collaboration with our partners). These actions are outlined below as well as the intended impacts.
TPI STRATEGIC ACTION AREAS, KEY ACTIONS, AND INTENDED IMPACTS
Dr. Kieran O Dwyer was contracted to undertake the second interim evaluation of the TPI. The evaluation assessed achievements and outcomes under the main action areas between March 2016 and September 2017. The report stated that interviewees were unequivocal in their support for the Initiative. They valued its contribution to fostering partnership and shared understanding, initiating and supporting programmes and facilitating and encouraging initiatives. It was seen as having a significant impact across a range of areas, while acknowledging that several initiatives were at a relatively early stage of development. It was recognised that significant challenges lie ahead, not least in reaching all Traveller prisoners, mainstreaming activities across all prisons, further awareness raising and overcoming negative attitudes. It concluded that the sharp focus on Traveller issues and the progress made in a relatively short period would not have been possible in the absence of the multi-agency approach of TPI.