Caring for the Pierhead bees: our staff volunteers

Darllenwch yr erthygl yma yn Gymraeg | View this post in Welsh

August 2019

The Assembly’s Pierhead building has been the home of two rooftop beehives since July 2018, regularly monitored and cared for by a small team of staff volunteers.

Despite having a rooftop location the hives are in a safe, sheltered spot which gives them protection from the worst of Cardiff Bay’s weather. Under the watchful eyes of our volunteers they settled in through autumn and survived their first winter.

Now it’s summer again, the bees are working hard and have started producing honey.

Here, some of our volunteers talk about their experiences:

Emily

It’s the height of summer and the Pierhead Bees are busier than ever foraging the surrounding areas of the Pierhead to build up stores of their glorious golden honey.

Whilst one of the hives had a relatively slow start this summer, the bees have more than made up for it and have now built up frame after frame of honey which will be harvested in the Autumn. It never ceases to amaze me just how hard working the bees are… To make just 1KG of honey, our Pierhead bees will have flown 145, 000km and could have visited up to 2000 flowers per day! As you can see from the photos below, they have been very busy indeed.

So how do the bees make honey? Our bees have been busy foraging the local area for nectar found in plants and wildflowers. The nectar is collected, then once inside the beehive, the worker bees repeatedly consume, digest and regurgitate the nectar into the cells. When it is the right consistency, the honey is then sealed which is what you can see in the photos below.

This will be the first season where we will be able to harvest honey, and as a new beekeeper I am excited to see the process. Honey has been harvested for thousands of years for its various benefits. Not only does it taste delicious and never goes off, but it has many medicinal properties too. It is anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory and can even be used to help relieve hay fever symptoms. Hopefully the bees will be kind enough to share some of their honey with us later in the year!

Did you know?
Honey stores have been found in the tombs of ancient Egyptian Pharaohs and when excavated were still edible 3000 years later! Proving the theory that honey never goes off!

Sian D

As a nature lover, I feel very lucky to be part of such an exciting project at the Assembly.

Who knew that there was so much to learn about bees?! I’ve been working on the project for just over a year now and I still find myself constantly learning about their ways and tricks. I’m nearly always surprised each time I lift the lid off a hive and peer in – particularly at the astonishing speed with which the hives change and develop.

The busy nature of the bees means that it is essential that we carry out weekly inspections during the summer months, while the flowers are blooming and pollination activity is in full swing. We work as a pair during the inspections, thoroughly scanning each frame as we work our way through the hive. While we scan we look for honey (their food supply); pollen; capped brood cells; larva; eggs; and the usually inconspicuous queen.

During an inspection you may find some of the bees raising their behinds in the air and frantically fanning their wings. If you are brave enough to put your face close to them then you will smell a lovely fresh scent of lemon being wafted up your nostrils. This scent that they release helps the foraging bees find their way home.

As you scan through the hives you will also find that the capped cells come in different sizes. The large raised ones will contain a drone bee (male) and the flatter cells contain a smaller female bee.

Did you know that the queen bee can choose the sex of its offspring? When a virgin queen first leaves the hive she will have multiple matings with drone bees during her flight. She then stores the sperm using it bit by bit as she lays her eggs. Her stores will usually last around three years. If she fertilizes an egg with sperm then a female bee will emerge, and a drone will emerge from an unfertilized egg. This ‘choice’ is determined by the size of the brood cells made by the worker bees. And these are only a few of the many fascinating facts about the wondrous bees!

Sian C

I jumped at the opportunity to be involved in the bee keeping here at the Assembly and my experience so far has not disappointed.

The bee keeping is fascinating and I find the time spent up on top of the Pierhead so relaxing. Caring for the bees and watching the hives grow and change has been an education, and I am in awe of the colonies and the way in which nature works.

I have learnt so much, not just about the bees, but also it has further peaked my interest in environmental issues and from this I have made some big changes to my consumer habits, diet and garden! Not only have I learnt a new skill, I have also met some amazing new people from all walks of Assembly life, many of whom I wouldn’t have had a chance to speak with beyond a quick ‘hello’ in the corridor.

Thanks for the opportunity to be part of such an innovative project – I love it!

Katy

I am always surprised to see the letters ‘Dr.’ in front of my name. But I am a doctor. Not the type you’d want on a plane when the stewards shout ‘is there a doctor on-board?!’ for I am (what my friends have coined) a ‘Dr of Bees’. My PhD was based on studying wild pollinators which involved identifying bee species and the flowers they feed on.

So, I was so excited to discover that the Assembly had started keeping bees. I am now a member of the Bee team (by no means secondary) and it is such a privilege. Although I had studied wild pollinator communities, I didn’t have any experience of keeping honey bees. I have learned so much from Nature’s Little Helpers and my fellow Bee team colleagues, thank you for the opportunity.

They are amazing animals. They truly work as a ‘hive mind’, each having specialised roles depending on their age, which they perform so diligently. The youngest bees are the cleaners. They progress through the roles of feeding their larval brothers and sisters, building the combs, guarding the hive and finally flying away to collect pollen and nectar.

Together they create the most meticulous and astonishing collective. And of course there is the Queen. But she doesn’t reign as you might imagine, for it is the worker bees that call the shots. Through cues, they control the queen’s activity – they even decide whether she lays a male or female grub!


Due to their rooftop location and not wanting to disturb the bees, the hives are not open to the public, although if you look carefully you might spot one of them gathering pollen around Cardiff Bay.

World Suicide Prevention Day – Supporting Teachers and Young People

Lynne Neagle AM

Suicide is a very difficult  topic and one that, too often, crosses the mind of many young people, including school children. That is why today – on World Suicide Prevention Day – I am glad to welcome the publication of Welsh Government’s first ever suicide and self-harm guidance to support teachers.

Suicide and young people

Suicide is the leading cause of death among young people.  The latest figures, released last week, from the Office of National Statistics show a marked increase in young people dying by suicide and a worrying increase in the number of the number of girls dying by suicide.

Suicide is preventable, which is why I am committed to raising awareness of suicide prevention. I really believe that, as a country, we must do all we can to intervene and stop preventable deaths. 

Supporting young people, teachers and schools

The tragic fact is that in 2017, some 226 school children across the UK lost their lives to suicide. Schools are clearly very much in need of guidance to support teachers and other professionals who regularly come into contact with children and young people.

Indeed, in my role as chair of the National Assembly’s Children, Young People and Education Committee, I called for such guidance on talking about suicide and self-harm to be issued to schools in our landmark report Mind Over Matter. I am pleased Welsh Government listened to us and is this week launching guidance to support school staff in responding to young people who are suicidal or self-harming. 

The challenge, now, will be implementation and going even further. The guidance is strong on how schools should respond to young people who are obviously struggling but it is desperately important we provide a bridge to help schools reach the young people that no one realises are struggling, the ones who we don’t know about until it is too late. 

We urgently need to be in a position where we are not simply responding to young people in obvious distress but are ensuring sensitive discussions about suicide take place appropriately in all schools. 

I have long believed that mental health is everyone’s business in a school, so at the same time as welcoming the new guidance I will continue to keep Welsh Government’s feet to the fire to ensure a sensitive approach to suicide prevention becomes an accepted part of the school timetable.

Schools and the education system have a key role in building emotional resilience. The Mind Over Matter report, published in April 2018, provided a road map for a step-change in support for children’s emotional and mental health. 

At the heart of our recommendations were calls for greater emphasis on resilience-building, and early intervention – to embed good mental health and coping strategies that will stay with youngsters for the rest of their lives.  

Improving the future for children, young people and adults

I firmly believe that if we get this right for our children and young people, so many other things will fall into place. They will learn better, they will attain more, they will get better jobs but they will also be more resilient adults. I think there is a direct link between getting this right and stemming the increase in mental health problems and in the number of adult suicides too.

We are not suggesting that teachers should become mental health experts. But we would like to see everyone who cares, volunteers or works with children and young people trained in emotional and mental health awareness to help tackle issues of stigma, promote good mental health and enable signposting to support services where necessary.

We were told during the inquiry that a lot of teachers are afraid of saying the wrong thing. I have spoken to teachers who have told me they are afraid to go home at night because they are the last line of defence for a young person who is self-harming and they don’t know what to do.

That is why we are pushing for the inclusion of basic mental health training – including how to talk about suicide – to be part of initial teacher training and continuous professional development. We really need to enable people who work with children and young people to feel comfortable having difficult conversations.

The importance of enabling people to talk about suicide is key. As a member of the joint ministerial group set up in response to Mind Over Matter to accelerate work on a whole-school approach to children’s mental health, I often find myself saying that if we focus  on compassion on building compassionate relationships with young people then it will follow that mental health becomes everyone’s business in a school.

I welcome this new guidance as a step forward in building that compassionate and kind approach, I hope it will encourage everyone to see that we all have a role to play in suicide prevention.

10 reasons to visit the Senedd this Summer

Darllenwch yr erthygl yma yn Gymraeg | View this post in Welsh

Looking for something to do this weekend? Why not head to Cardiff Bay to visit the Senedd?

From politics to architecture, from art to artisan Welsh products, the Senedd has something for everyone.

1. The award-winning architecture and design

The Senedd is truly one of a kind. It’s huge funnel and canopy made of sustainable Canadian cedar wood are best viewed from inside the building, where you can explore on two levels.

2. Explore the Senedd trail

Looking for some fun, free children’s activities to enjoy this weekend? Little explorers can time-travel through the centuries on our children’s trails. Search the Senedd and collect the clues – and find out lots of interesting facts along the way. Hand your completed card back to Reception and enter the draw to win a prize!

3. See what happens behind the scenes

Over the summer our guided tours include exclusive access to areas not usually open to the public. Our friendly, expert guides will take you on a journey through the history of the Bay through to the architecture of the Senedd and Wales today.
Best of all, tours are free and run daily at 11.00 / 14.00 / 15.00

4. Enjoy a taste of Wales in our café and shop

A day of exploring the Bay calls for a paned (Welsh for ‘cuppa’) and cake in our café. Choose from a range of refreshments and enjoy beautiful views of the Bay through the Senedd’s huge windows. Next to the café is the shop, which stocks Welsh produce, books and gifts.

5. Take in some art

The Senedd will be hosting some great new exhibitions throughout the Summer.

You could create your own postcard from Wales inspired by Steve Knapik MBE’s huge installation and post it in our post box.
Discover some of the history of Cardiff Bay through Jack K Neale’s old black and white images of ships sailing out of Bute Docks, carrying South Wales coal back to France.
Or think about what you’d add to Drawn Together, a national project which invited people to take five minutes to draw something they could see. In total over 4,500 people participated, with drawings received from every county in Wales.

6. The friendliest security in Cardiff

As with any parliamentary building, all visitors are required to go through airport-style security on their way into the Senedd. However, our Security team strive to make a good first impression. Here is a very small selection of the many comments we’ve received about them on Trip Advisor:

“Had to pass through security, but they were the politest I’ve encountered (Heathrow take note)”
Celticfire

“Friendliest government building I have ever visited! Beautiful and interesting building manned by the friendliest staff I’ve ever come across. Even the security guards were a delight ensuring an easy, safe transit into the building.”
Gillyflower58

“Airport style security performed by some very happy and friendly staff.”
138Paul138

Did we mention we also have a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence?

7. Enjoy the Senedd’s environmental design

Baking hot in Cardiff Bay? The Senedd’s unique design keeps it lovely and cool on summer days. It’s windows actually open and close automatically to help regulate the temperature inside.

8. Help us celebrate 20 years

This year we are celebrating 20 years of the National Assembly for Wales. Share your aspirations for Wales over the next 20 years on our board.

9. We’ve got Lego®, Duplo® and activities for little ones

If you’re feeling inspired after seeing the Bright Bricks dragon, princess and wizard in Mermaid Quay, come along and add your own Lego® creation to our map of Wales. Throughout the holidays we also have colouring and craft available to keep little ones entertained while you enjoy a well-earned sit down.

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10. It’s free!

And how much does it cost to access all this, I hear you ask? Nothing. The Senedd is a public building – your building – and we are open 7 days a week. Whether you’re visiting Cardiff for the weekend or you’re a local who’s never ventured inside, head down to the Senedd this summer as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the National Assembly for Wales.


Our First Citizens’ Assembly

On the weekend of 19 – 21 July, 58 of the 60 people selected as being representative of the Welsh population gathered at Gregynog Hall in mid Wales to take part in our first citizens’ assembly. The Assembly Commission decided to hold this citizens’ assembly as part of its 20th Anniversary celebrations.

This citizens’ assembly had two questions to consider:

  • How can people in Wales shape their future?
  • Which devolved areas are working particularly well and which are challenging Wales?

The citizens’ assembly’s participants

Sixty participants, drawn from applicants from 10,000 randomly selected households, were chosen to take part. They were demographically representative of the Welsh population. Roughly 75% had no university degree, 25% had no GCSEs or equivalents, and 60% did not vote in the 2016 National Assembly for Wales (the Assembly) election. Distinguishing this political gathering from any other recallable in the last twenty years in Wales.

The 60 chosen to take part in this event were representative of Wales’ population aged 16 and over in terms of:

Age:

  • 16-29 – 23.5% (14-15)
    • 39-44 – 22.4% (13-14)
    • 45-59 – 23.9% (14-15)
    • 60+ – 30.2% (18)

Education level:

  • No qualifications – 25.9% (15-16)
    • Level 1 or 2 – 29% (17-18)
    • Level 3 or Apprenticeship or Other – 20.5% (12-13)
    • Level 4 or above – 24.5% (14-15)

Geography:

  • 12 people from each of the 5 electoral regions.

Ethnicity:

  • White – 95.6% (50)
  • BAME – 4.4% (10 – a decision was made to over-represent this category)

Vote in 2016 election

  • Yes – 40.7% (24-25)
    • No or ineligible – 59.3% (35-36)

Welsh language skills (speak, read, write, understand or some combination thereof):

  • Yes – 26.7% (16)
    • No – 73.3% (44)

Gender (self-identified):

  • Male – 51% (30-31)
    • Female – 49 % (29-30)
    • Other – 0% (none selected this category)

The weekend of the citizens’ assembly.

The citizens’ assembly began with participants considering the areas that are devolved to Wales. A panel of speakers delivered background information about the Assembly, its budget, powers and role. Participants were then asked to write down:

Participants reached conclusions on the areas where they felt Wales is doing well on and the areas they saw as posing the biggest challenges.

“I’ve heard a lot of interesting and diverse views around the table – I’d like to see some of these actioned”.

Niz, citizens’ assembly member.

Participants then focused on the primary question this citizens’ assembly was to address, how they – the people of Wales – want to be able to shape their future through the work of the Assembly.

Participants heard from expert speakers who presented evidence to the citizens’ assembly on the ways in which they can already do this and then focused on the additional ways in which people in Wales could be able to do this in the future.

The  functions participants focused on were:

  1. Ways to shape the future by influencing committees’ work.
  2. Ways to shape the future by engaging with the draft budget approval process.
  3. Ways to shape the future by engaging in questioning the Government.
  4. Ways to shape the future by helping to set the Assembly’s agenda (e.g. the petitions process, the Welsh Youth Parliament).

Participant feedback

All participants completed a feedback form at the end of the citizens’ assembly weekend, giving their views on whether or not taking part in the citizens’ assembly had changed their feelings towards participation in decision making more generally.

  • 91% of participants strongly agreed that taking part in this citizens’ assembly made them want to be more involved in other aspects of decision making.
  • 93% of participants strongly agreed that they felt more confident to engage in political decision making as a result of being involved in this citizens’ assembly.

“Coming here now and meeting lots of different people and listening to different opinions was really good – it was a really good weekend.”

Sarah, citizens’ assembly member

The report

A citizens’ assembly report is currently being drafted. The report will consider the following:

1. What participants value most about Wales as it currently is;

2. What participants see as the biggest challenges facing Wales;

3. The pros and cons of each additional way of shaping the future;

4. Participants’ order of preference for innovations in each of the four functions debated, and why;

5. Participants’ order of preference across all of the innovations, and why;

6. Participants’ view on whether or not each innovation should be considered for adoption, and why.

This will provide the Assembly with an excellent understanding of what people in Wales see as the biggest challenges and how people in Wales would like to be able to shape their future through the work of the Assembly.

The aim is to publish the report at a public event at the Gwlad Festival of Politics in late September with the Assembly Commission considering its response in the Autumn term.

The team behind the citizens’ assembly

The evidence and information for participants was compiled by the citizens’ assembly’s expert leads: Professor Graham Smith, Professor of Politics and Director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Westminster and Dr Huw Pritchard, lecturer in law at Cardiff University and member of the Wales Governance Centre; Huw supported by putting together background information for the citizens’ assembly.

Also, the Assembly Commission’s steering group coordinated internal scrutiny and analysis whilst the Hansard Society provided an impartial external critique.

Furthermore, the expert speakers, who are leading academics and practitioners in this field, advised on the comprehensiveness, accuracy and balance of the evidence the assembly was to hear on both current and future opportunities for people in Wales to shape their future. 

The citizens’ assembly guest speakers included the expert leads, along with Dr Alan Renwick, University College London; Dr Diana Stirbu, London Metropolitan University; Dr Clodagh Harris, University College Cork; Professor Cristina Leston-Bandeira, University of Leeds and Rebecca Rumbul, Lead Researcher with My Society.

The Assembly Commission commissioned two leading organisations to deliver the citizens’ assembly event and recruitment. The Sortition Foundation, which delivers stratified, random selection solutions, and the Involve Foundation, the UK’s leading public participation charity.

To find out more about the citizens’ assembly, visit the Devolution20 website.

A Landscape of Creative Talent

Steve Knapik MBE tells us all about his exhibition, ‘A Postcard from Wales’ which is opening at the Senedd on the 27th of July 2019.

I am an artist, but I am also passionate about my work with the Blue Balloon Children’s Charity. Through this charity, many people work hard to improve children’s lives in Wales.  A few years ago, I wanted to help Blue Balloon by organising a huge art project to create a very, very big landscape artwork; so big in fact, that I hoped to break the Guinness World Record for the Longest Continuing Landscape artwork. I knew that this would be a lot of work, so I asked for help from many different people, including primary school pupils, groups supporting people living with dementia, and pupils from schools for those with additional needs. It was important to me to get a range of people involved so that we could make sure that the project was inclusive and welcoming to all.

We worked hard for five years. It took a lot of work to organise everything, but it was worth it when I could see the excitement and enjoyment on everyone’s face. If we were to break the Guinness World Record  we needed at least 30,000 drawings, so there was a lot of work to be done! Each drawing had lines showing where the mountains and sky were, and this meant that the drawings could be joined together to create one large joined artwork. I saw a lot of creative talent and imaginative ways of thinking about our landscapes. For example, some primary school children used blocks of coloured stripes to represent fields.

Everyone was excited about our World Record attempt. Even the Liberty Stadium in Swansea was ready for us to display over 5 miles of original, joined up drawings…

And then, bad news! We discovered that our project couldn’t be registered as a World Record. I felt very sad and disappointed. What was I going to do with all these fantastic drawings? But I was determined not to be defeated. These amazing artworks deserved to be on display. I needed an iconic, important building to show the talent and creativity that I had seen in children all over Wales.

I got in touch with the National Assembly for Wales and I met Alice, who is a curator there. She works with artists to organise exhibitions. Where better for these brilliant artworks than the Senedd, the home of democracy in Wales, where people make important decisions about what happens in our country? Alice and I met a few times to come up with the best solution to display the artwork in the Senedd, and finally we were ready to put the exhibition together for everyone to enjoy.

I feel that the Senedd will be the perfect place to show our artwork, and I am looking forward to getting even more people involved, by encouraging visitors to the Senedd to make postcards to send, and to celebrate a lot of exciting things that are happening at the Assembly this year…

The 20th Anniversary of the National Assembly for Wales.

It was such an honour to be chosen to be part of this important celebration. The National Assembly for Wales was created twenty years ago, and the Senedd is the perfect place for a big celebration. The building is open to the public, and I’m very pleased to ask YOU the public to come in and take part in creating your own, unique landscape to continue the project. I hope you have as much fun as over 30,000 children and adults had before you, taking part in our project.

The Welsh Youth Parliament

In February this year the Welsh Youth Parliament, made of 60 young people aged 11 – 18, met for the first time. We want to help celebrate this wonderful event and stand alongside the 60 members who represent every part of Wales. Each member has a big interest in a part of life that affects young people today. It is so important for our young people to have a voice, and the Youth Parliament work hard to make sure that that voice is heard. Some members of the Youth Parliament even took part in my project when they were at school!

In many ways the motto of the Blue Balloon Children’s charity, ‘Today’s hope for a better tomorrow’ can also be applied to these young people who represent the voices of all young people in Wales –helping to make a difference.

The Arts as part of our Welsh identity.

Wales as a nation has a strong sense of belonging and identity. This is shown in so many ways, especially through the arts. We celebrate Wales as the Land of Song, so music is a strong part of our heritage; but so are poetry, drama and the visual arts. Inspiration comes from many sources. Artists have for many centuries been fascinated by the landscapes of Wales: the mountains, sea and sky.

It is important that we take a close look at our immediate environment, and whilst talking to people young and less young throughout the project, we talked about many issues that are having an effect on where we live. The environment around us can help to start discussion, and we showed our feelings about our environment through our landscape artworks. We must never lose sight of the importance the arts plays in society and how it can be very positive for our wellbeing and sense of who we are.

Neurodiversity in the Workplace

Diversity and Inclusion

Neurodiversity is about recognising that people think about things differently. Most people’s brains work and interpret information similarly, however, others interpret information in different ways. This is just another way of accessing your environment.

Why it’s important that organisations embrace and support neurodiversity in the workplace

Organisations are realising that a diverse set of skills, experiences, perspectives and background fosters innovation. In turn, this can  increase productivity, customers’ needs are better catered for, along with shaping products and services offered.

The National Autistic Society reports that only 16% of adults with autism are in full time work. Many people with autism can work and are enthusiastic to find jobs which reflects their talent and interests. With a little understanding and small adjustments to the workplace, they can be a real asset to businesses across the UK.

What we are doing to attract and retain neurodivergent people

  • We have raised awareness of neurodivergent conditions, such as autism, among colleagues and managers, so that they are best placed to support neurodivergent colleagues in the workplace.
  • We have provided training for line managers on supporting and managing colleagues with autism.
  • We are constantly refining our job descriptions to give candidates a clearer sense of what’s involved in the job role.
  • We have taken steps to update our candidate packs. We are in the process of redesigning our recruitment webpages to ensure we are accessible to all.
  • We are currently reviewing our recruitment processes to maximise inclusion by ensuring our values are aligned with our recruitment.
  • We work with candidates to understand what support, if any, they will need if appointed. This can involve  adjustments to the sensory environment, such as providing quiet spaces to work, assistive software, noise-cancelling headphones, buddying and sensory aids.

 The Assembly Commission is a signatory of the Government’s Disability Confident Campaign – we are a Disability Confident Employer and have also been awarded the National Autism Society Autism Friendly Award.

As an employee at the Assembly Commission with a diagnosis of Autism and ADHD, I feel accepted for who I am, as a person living with these disabilities. The organisation has been very supportive towards my wish to work part-time as this is so suitable for my needs.

It was a great honour to deliver a presentation at a staff training session about autism where I had the chance to talk about my personal experiences in this area. This specialised staff training session greatly helped me and my line manager understand my needs and reasonable adjustments have been carried out as a result.

I look forward to continuing to gain more skills and experience during my employment here and continue to avidly contribute to the day-to-day running of the organisation.”

Assembly Commission employee

 

Promoting a Family Friendly Workplace

Diversity and Inclusion Week

This week, we are celebrating Diversity and Inclusion. Here at the Assembly, we work tirelessly  towards developing policies and procedures that support our goal of being an inclusive employer, helping us develop an organisational culture where people can be themselves, but also thrive and achieve their potential.

We work with our Workplace Equality Networks (WENs) to ensure that our employees can talk to and be supported by like-minded people. Staff who identify as a protected characteristic can come together and support each other, as well as offer advice on how we can become a more inclusive employer.

We recognise that it is increasingly becoming harder to juggle our day to day lives with our work, and so we are proud to have a range of flexible working arrangements which include flexi-time, part-time working, working from home, job share opportunities and career breaks. Our flexible working arrangements have consistently  earnt us a spot on the Top 30 Family Friendly Employer list.

Our TEULU Network is our working parents and carers WEN and its purpose is to:

  • raise awareness and understanding of needs and barriers to inclusion within the workplace;
  • influence and develop a range of policies, services and training around issues that could affect working parents and carers;
  • promote the rights and participation of working parents and carers in all aspects of the policies, practices and procedures within the Assembly Parliamentary Services;
  • actively contribute to the development and review of relevant policies via equality impact assessments; and
  • gather and promote information on a range of issues pertinent to working parents and carers