In 2009 the Irish Traveller Movement (ITM), funded by the Department of the Environment, commissioned a study to assess if the establishment of a Traveller led accommodation Association (TVAA) was a feasible option. The study was undertaken in the context where the delivery and management of Traveller accommodation was undermined by a host of problems such as planning barriers, the lack of effective delivery mechanisms, poor involvement of Travellers in the design and development of accommodation and racism.

The study found that a TVAA could be a key mechanism to develop new thinking and demonstrate best practice in the design, development and management of Traveller accommodation. It was recognised that a TVAA has a lot to offer by way of complementing the current system.

There was also widespread support for the establishment of such an initiative from within the Traveller community and Traveller organizations and within the state and voluntary housing sectors.

To build on the recommendations of the report in 2011 the ITM established a steering committee to put in place the operational and governance structures for the TVAA which is now named CENA, which is cant for home. The mission of CENA is to lead the way in innovation and best practice in the design, delivery and management of culturally appropriate accommodation to Travellers and build strategic relationships with other social housing providers to achieve its vision.

Approaches & Principles

Participation and inclusion/Traveller led
The effective participation and inclusion of Traveller individuals at all levels of Cena is central to its approach and reflected in Board, staffing and active participation of Travellers at all levels.

Respect for Human Rights
Promoting Diversity and Equality: Travellers rights are human rights and the provision of accommodation services need to reflect their distinct culture and ethnicity. Cena respects diversity and ensure that its services meet the needs of Travellers in different circumstances such as Travellers with a disability and older Travellers, to achieve this principle.

Cena is a partnership between Travellers and non-Travellers who are committed to achieving the full delivery of culturally appropriate accommodation to Travellers that respects their ethnicity. Working in solidarity with Travellers and the Voluntary Housing Sector will ensure that the organisations can build and be part of a broad alliance of organisations pursuing better accommodation for all.

Process of working
The process or approach to the work is as important as the outcome, to ensure that there is ownership, input and full participation by Travellers. This involves ensuring that there are structures and meaningful consultation mechanisms in place for the participation of Travellers in the work of Cena with the necessary resources to support this work.

Social Change
Working for social change, Cena seeks to ensure that accommodation it delivers is supportive of Travellers ethnicity and it feeds these lessons in to national Traveller accommodation policy arenas to bring about real equality of outcomes for Travellers.

Evaluation and Accountability
Reviewing all of its work will be a critical approach of Cena. This will enable it to take a critical look at its work to examine its effectiveness and inform the direction of future work. Accountability of funding and polices will be a key part of this process.

These key principles will be reflected in the way the organisation carries out its work.

For more information, contact Bridgie Casey on bridgiecaseycena@gmail.com

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