Access to banking in Wales [Infographic]

Have you noticed that its getting increasingly harder to find a bank, or cashpoint when you need one?

Here’s why:

Wales lost 43% of its bank branches between January 2015 and August 2019.

A total of 239 in all.

What’s more, 10% of our free ATMs have disappeared in the last year.

Access to banking and free cash machines in Wales is not a new concern, however the scale of closures continues to increase at an alarming rate.

You told us in a recent survey how losing your local bank branch or cashpoint is affecting you, your community and businesses in the local area.

You can see some of the feedback from the survey in the infographic below.

Urgent action needed

The findings of an inquiry into access to banking in Wales have been published. Calling for urgent action from the Welsh Government to protect our valuable banking network and champion Welsh consumers at a UK level.

If you’d like to read the full report on access to banking in Wales, you can download it here.


Pierhead Bees – Summer update, August 2019

Matthew Jones, Sustainability Manager

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

Winter

The Pierhead Bees coped with their first winter well – they thinned down their numbers and huddled together for warmth in the hive, keeping it a toasty 30+ degrees in the middle to protect their queen. 

We left all the honey in the hives last year as they hadn’t been with us for the full season, and even supplemented their diet with some fondant which they munched through in the spring without having to leave the hives.

Spring into Summer

The different personalities of the hives have  continued to be evident throughout their first year.  Hive two has still been much more boisterous with the keepers inspecting them, but they have also been busier.  They started making plenty of food and increasing their numbers again early in the spring, while hive one was still taking it slow after the winter. 

So much so in fact that we even had to borrow some frames of food from hive two and give it to the bees in hive one; rewarding their lethargy, we know!

As the abundance of flowering plants has grown into the summer, especially on the undeveloped areas of land around the Bay where the bees can forage, hive one caught up and both were displaying ample food stocks.

This trend continued and recently we actually had to add a super (extra layer) to hive one to store all their food, and another one for brood– all the extra baby bees they’ve been making.

Hive two in the meantime changed dramatically- relaxing their behaviour for a while whilst we noticed they had stopped making eggs.  Although it can be difficult to spot the queen during an inspection visit, a behaviour change and lack of eggs are sure-fire signs the queen is no longer present.  The following week we then noticed two queen or supercedure cells; the hive trying to make a new queen.  We had to leave both of these to hatch, and in the ruthless efficiency of nature the two queens would battle it out with only the strongest surviving.

We had to allow this process to take its course; servicing only hive one whilst the queen from hive two left to mate with a male from another hive, and return home before settling down to take up her new role as matriarch and egg-layer. 

A precarious time during which she could become lost or even eaten by a bird, we were obviously on tenterhooks awaiting her safe return.  Our keepers had to be patient while we avoided any disturbance of the hive during this critical time.  That patience paid off though and we are pleased to report that at the start of August we found new eggs in hive two.  Baby bees are being made and the hive has a new leader to work for. 

Long live the queen!

For more information on the Pierhead Bees project email sustainability@assembly.wales

The Assembly has signed up to the Race at Work Charter

Leadership Team posing with pledges saying proud to sign up to Race at Work Charter

We are pleased to announce we are now a signatory of the Business in the Community Race at Work Charter.

We know, from the Race Disparity Audit’s Ethnicity Facts and Figures website and the Business in the Community Race at Work Survey, that ethnic minorities still face significant disparities in employment and progression, and that is something that needs to change. The McGregor-Smith review has highlighted the fact that greater progress and positive outcomes are now needed to ensure all organisations benefit from the wealth of diverse talent on offer.

The Charter helps businesses improve racial equality in the workplace and is composed of five principle calls to action for leaders and organisations across all sectors. The five principle call to action are:

• Appointing an executive sponsor for race.

• Capture ethnicity data and publicise progress.

• Commit at Board level to zero tolerance of harassment and bullying.

• Make clear that supporting equality in the workplace is the
responsibility of all leaders and managers.

• Take action that supports ethnic minority career progression.

Map
BHM logo

October is Black History Month and seems a great time to launch the fact that we have signed up to the Charter. Signing up means we are committing to taking practical steps to improving ethnic equality in the workplace and tackling barriers that ethnic minority people face in recruitment and progression and ensuring that our organisation is representative of British society today.

Manon Antoniazzi, Chief Executive and Clerk of the National Assembly for Wales, said:

“Signing the Charter will complement our ongoing diversity work to ensure that, as a parliamentary organisation that is for all the people of Wales, we behave as an inclusive employer, attracting and retaining talent, enabling everyone we employ to realise their full potential and that we break down the barriers that currently block opportunities for certain groups of people irrespective of their race and ethnicity. I am very excited to see our progress as we embark upon the Charter, in addition to other benchmarking and recognition activities.”

Joyce Watson AM, Assembly Commissioner with responsibility for diversity and inclusion, said:

“I am really pleased to see that the Assembly Commission is a signatory to this charter. Wales is a diverse nation as this should be reflected in its workforce. As Commissioner for Equality and People I will both promote and monitor progress.”

Elin Jones AM, Llywydd of the National Assembly for Wales, said:

It is important that the Assembly continues to lead the way in promoting an inclusive culture throughout our organisation.

“We want to build on our record as a modern, accessible parliament with which people from a diverse range of backgrounds can easily and meaningfully interact.

“I see us signing this Charter as a valuable part of ensuring that.”

Business in the Community logo

GWLAD – ten things you need to know

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

1. What is it?

To celebrate 20 years of devolution, the National Assembly for Wales is hosting the GWLAD festival – five days of events in Cardiff Bay, followed by three mini-festivals during the Autumn of 2019.
We have worked in partnership with a number of organisations to create events which offer something for everyone: art, music, comedy and sport, as well as thought-provoking lectures and panel discussions on a range of topics including journalism, politics and culture.

2. When is it?

25-29 September 2019
We also have two regional festivals planned for Autumn 2019 – follow our social media channels for details.

3. Where is it?

Events this week will be held in either the Senedd or Pierhead buildings in Cardiff Bay. If you’re not in south Wales don’t worry, we have three mini festivals planned for later in the year across the country. Keep an eye on our social media channels for details.

4. Who is going to be there?

Charlotte Church and Rhys Ifans will be with us to chat about their careers, what inspires them and Welsh devolution.

Journalist Carole Cadwalladr will be talking about breaking the Cambridge Analytica story, while Welsh sporting legends Colin Charvis, Tanni Grey Thompson and Professor Laura McAllister will be discussing how to inspire the next generation of sporting heroes.

5. What’s new?

BBC Question Time will be broadcast from the Senedd for the very first time. Guests from the worlds of politics and media answer topical questions raised by members of the public. Got a question? Apply via the BBC to be part of the audience.

Gig GWLAD
In another first, the Senedd will be hosting a spectacular night of music to celebrate the thriving and varied music scene in Wales.
Come along on 28 September to see Geraint Jarman, Eädyth & Jukebox, Gwilym, Rachel K Collier and Afro Cluster.

6. I don’t like politics – what’s on for me?

How about some comedy?

Little Wander, the team behind the Machynlleth Comedy Festival will be bringing some of our finest Welsh comedians to the Senedd for the first time. Taking to the Senedd stage for the first time will be: Tudur Owen, Lloyd Langford, Kiri Pritchard-McLean, Mike Bubbins, Matt Rees and Esyllt Sears.



Or some sport?

If rugby is your thing, come along to the Pierhead where we’ll be showing the Wales v Australia match on a big screen – your early morning journey will even be rewarded with a bacon roll and a cuppa.
You can also celebrate Welsh sporting achievements with Colin Charvis, Tanni Grey Thompson and Professor Laura McAllister as they discuss inspiring the next generation of heroes.

7. What about current affairs?

Join Public Affairs Cymru on 29 September as they look at the rise of fake news and its impact on political reporting. Panellists include Guto Harri – former Director of Communications for Boris Johnson, Ruth Mosalski of Wales Online and James Williams, BBC Political Correspondent.

How will Brexit affect Wales? Assembly Members from across the political spectrum – Jeremy Miles (Welsh Labour), Leanne Wood (Plaid Cymru) and Nick Ramsey (Welsh Conservatives) will be discussing Brexit, poverty and automation in Wales.

Cardiff University will be looking at how devolved issues in Wales are covered by mainstream media and broadcasters on 28 September.

Cardiff University’s Dr Justin Lewis will be asking do we need journalists? during his session on reporting and communicating news in the digital age.

8. What else is on?

Art and culture

During September the Senedd is hosting Many Voices, One Nation exhibition, featuring work by Ed Brydon, Luce + Harry, Zillah Bowes, John Poutney, James Hudson and Huw Alden Davies.
Come along on 28 September for an exclusive “in conversation” event with some of the artists as they talk about their influences and inspiration.


Can using a graphic novel format make history more accessible? Our talk about Chartism and the Newport rising looks at new ways to get people engaged with history, 28 September 14.00-15.00.

Aberystwyth University will be looking at the promotion of minority languages and what Wales could learn from the experiences of other nations such as Catalonia, Ireland, Canada and New Zealand.


Politics

ITV Wales’ Adrian Masters chairs a discussion looking back at 20 years of devolution in Wales on Wednesday 25 September.
The BBC’s Welsh Affairs Editor and Radio Wales presenter Vaughan Roderick will also be looking at the impact of devolution in Wales during his session as guest speaker, as we host the BBC Cymru Wales annual Patrick Hannan lecture on 27 September.
The Wales Governance Centre will be looking to the future during their session: Devolution: what does Wales think?

The Assembly has always boasted strong female representation, and in 2003 became the first in the world to achieve 50/50 gender balance. Join Chwarae Teg for an inspiring discussion on creating a Senedd equal for all women.

The economy

Ahead of Black History Month Wales, join Race Council Cymru for a look at challenges for equality in the Welsh economy. The expert panel includes Chantal Patel, Head of Inter-professional Studies at Swansea University, Sahar Al Faifi of MEND (Muslim Engagement and Development), Professor Parvaiz Ali, former head of Nuclear Medicine at Singleton Hospital, and Professor Emmanuel Ogbonna of Cardiff Business School.

The Institute of Welsh Affairs will be looking at the foundational economy – what is it and what difference can it make to Welsh communities?

9. How much are tickets?

All tickets to GWLAD events are free. They cannot be reissued or sold.

10. What if I don’t have a ticket?

We have a very limited number of extra tickets for popular events which will be made available this week.
A number of events will also be streamed live on Senedd TV and on the National Assembly for Wales’ social media channels.
Keep an eye on our Twitter and Facebook channels for further details of both tickets and broadcasts.

You can see a full list of all GWLAD events on our devolution20.wales website.

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.