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Sudan meets Wales: What can the Parliament of Sudan learn from the National Assembly for Wales?

Over the last year or so, staff from the National Assembly for Wales have been working in partnership with a social purpose enterprise, Global Partners Governance (GPG), to share best practice with the Parliament of Sudan. As part of this relationship, it was decided that a visit to the National Assembly for Wales would be beneficial for a small delegation of Sudanese MPs and staff.

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A 1.5 day programme was prepared for the delegates. The programme included sessions on the following subject areas:

Development of the Assembly’s Research Service

To date, the Parliament of Sudan has not established a Research Service. This session reinforced the worth of having an impartial Research Service to support Assembly Members’ in their role. Delegates were very interested in the templates and ‘golden rules’ that the Research Service use here at the National Assembly for Wales.

Examples were used in this session to demonstrate how the Research Service works in partnership with Assembly Committees to support their work. Delegates were eager to learn more about this and expressed great interest in each aspect of the session.

How the Assembly engages with Welsh citizens and linking public engagement to Assembly Business

This session demonstrated how important public engagement and public perception of the National Assembly for Wales is, and what tools are used to reach out to target audiences.

Youth Engagement and Education

This was an opportunity to observe an educational visit, and to meet participating school children. The delegation were also given an overview of the Assembly’s Youth Engagement Service. A particular interest was shown in getting young people and children involved from an early age.

Continue reading “Sudan meets Wales: What can the Parliament of Sudan learn from the National Assembly for Wales?”

10 facts for 10 years of Black History Month in Wales

Black History Month Wales is celebrating its 10th year anniversary this year. First celebrated in the UK in 1987, this year also marks the 30th anniversary of Black History Month (BHM) in the UK.

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Every October throughout the UK, BHM celebrates the achievements and contributions of Black people to the development of British society; technology; the economy; the arts and culture. Read more about the history of BHM.

In celebration of 10 years, here are 10 facts you might not have been aware of:

1. In 1987 BHM was only celebrated in London, it is now a UK wide event with over 6,000 events being celebrated across the UK every October. Canada and America celebrate Black History Month in February.

2. The following were invented by Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) people:

Pencil sharpener, trolley car power system, first traffic light, sweeper truck, dustpan, automatic elevator door, first clothes dryer, fire escape ladder, fire extinguisher, carbon filament for the lightbulb, blood plasma bag, ironing board, hair brush, straightening comb, tricycle and more.

3. Betty Campbell  became Wales’s first black head teacher in the 1970s, with her post at Mount Stuart Primary School in Butetown, Cardiff.

4. Wales has one of the UK’s oldest multi-ethnic communities in Cardiff, in the area of Tiger Bay. Sailors and workers from over 50 countries settled there.

5. Leonora Brito was born in Cardiff, raised in and influenced by the multicultural community of Tiger Bay she recreated the society’s values through her writing. Her writing provided a unique insight into Afro-Caribbean Welsh society, largely unrepresented in Welsh writing until her work appeared. Her story ‘Dat’s Love’ won her the 1991 Rhys Davies Short Story Competition. She died in 2007.

6. Mohammed Asghar (Oscar) AM became Wales’s first Muslim councillor, representing the Victoria ward on Newport City Council in 2004. He became the first ethnic minority and Muslim member of the Assembly when he was elected to the National Assembly for Wales in 2007.

7. The 2011 census reported there were 18,276 Welsh African people, amounting to 0.6% of the Welsh population.

8. In 2008 Vaughan Gething AM became the youngest ever President of the TUC in Wales, also becoming the first black person in the role.

9. Eddie Parris, who was born at Pwllmeyric near Chepstow, became the first black footballer to play for Wales, playing his one and only international against Northern Ireland in Belfast in 1931 – nearly half a century before England’s first black player was awarded an international cap.

10. Judge Ray Singh, CBE, Chair of race Council Cymru is a retired District Judge and the first ethnic minority judge on the Welsh bench.

For further information on the Black History Month celebrations around Wales visit the Black History Month website.

Diwrnod #ShwmaeSumae Day – Our guide to promoting Welsh in the workplace

Once again this year, Assembly Members and staff will mark Shwmae/Su’mae Day with a week of activities. Everyone will be encouraged to start all conversations in Welsh with ‘Shwmae’ or ‘Su’mae’, and leaflets and stickers will be distributed throughout the building to raise awareness of the day.

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Many of the activities will be aimed at the large number of learners in the organisation. Indeed, the Assembly is at the forefront of providing Welsh lessons in the workplace. There is a team of three internal tutors who provide lessons at all levels to Assembly Members and their staff and to Assembly Commission staff.

Be flexible for your staff and their needs

The team can offer flexibility in its provision: as well as offering formal lessons that follow the usual textbooks, it is also able to offer learners one-to-one sessions. Some of these sessions can focus on specific elements such as pronunciation or improving the skills of fluent Welsh speakers. There are dedicated sessions for entire services within the Assembly such as the security service or ICT service, with the sessions tailored to the specific needs of those services.

Dysgu Learn

Make it fun and natural

The team also occasionally organises more informal events – for example, during Shwmae/Su’mae Day or around St David’s Day, a quiz, treasure hunt etc are arranged. The Assembly Choir has recently been formed, in part to offer learners the opportunity to enjoy using their Welsh.

The team utilises the ability of Welsh speakers in the organisation by appointing mentors for learners. Therefore, instead of having a formal lesson only once or twice a week, learners have the opportunity to practice their spoken Welsh skills in a less formal atmosphere.

In order to ensure that more conversations begin through the medium of Welsh throughout the year, we provide ‘iaith gwaith’ lanyards or special lanyards for learners that the Assembly produced some years ago.

In summary…

Llyfrau Books

The ultimate aim is to increase the capacity of the whole organisation to operate as a naturally bilingual organisation. Increasing the number of Welsh learners who can communicate bilingually is one way of achieving that goal.

Here are some of the things that we have been doing to encourage learners in the Assembly:

  • producing laminated desk resources on different issues: general greetings and sayings; chairing meetings; answering the phone;
  • using other Welsh speakers in the organisation to become mentors for learners;
  • organising informal events such as ‘coffee and chat’;
  • holding taster sessions for beginners on specific topics such as general greetings or the national anthem;
  • awareness raising events such as exhibitions during St David’s Day, Shwmae Day or St Dwynwen’s Day;
  • asking staff to say ‘Shwmae’ to coincide with Shwmae/Su’mae Day.

Black History Month: This October  marks a special anniversary

First celebrated in the UK in 1987, this year marks the 30th anniversary of BHM in the UK. Black History Month Wales is also celebrating its 10th year anniversary.

Abi Lasebikan, Co-Chair of our Race Ethnicity and Cultural Heritage workplace equality network, takes us through the history of BHM…

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Every October throughout the UK, Black History Month (BHM) celebrates the achievements and contributions of Black people to: the development of British society; technology; the economy; the arts and culture.

A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots” – Marcus Garvey

History

The first ever BHM event was held in London in 1987. Akyaaba Addai Sebbo, coordinator of Special Projects for the Greater London Council (GLC) at the time, is acknowledged as the originator of BHM in the UK and creating a collaboration to get it under way.

A colleague of mine, a woman, came to work one morning, looking very downcast and not herself. I asked her what the matter was, and she confided to me that the previous night when she was putting her son Marcus to bed he asked her, “Mum, why can’t I be white?”

The mother was taken aback. She said that she was so shocked that she didn’t know how to respond to her son. The boy that had been named after Marcus Garvey had asked why he couldn’t be white!

– Akyaaba Addai Sebbo

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It can arguably be said that the catalyst for BHM started eighteen months before the GLC was abolished in 1986. What followed in the months leading up to the GLC’s abolition was a concerted effort to find ways of carrying on the progressive equalities work of the GLC. The London Strategic Policy Unit (LSPU) made up of 15 Local Authorities, formed the body that took over the radical bits of the GLC after its abolition.

 

Linda Bellos, the then leader of Lambeth Council, remembers Ansell Wong, the then Head of the Ethnic Minority Unit, approaching her with the idea of initiating Black History Month in the UK.

Continue reading “Black History Month: This October  marks a special anniversary”

Twenty quotes to mark twenty years since Wales said yes

Twenty years ago, on 18 September 1997, a referendum was held in Wales on whether there was support for the creation of an assembly for Wales with devolved powers. Here we take a look at that day and the journey it began with twenty quotes…

“Devolution is about harnessing the power of community – the diverse community that is the United Kingdom, and the national communities that through devolution can take their futures in their own hands.”

A quote from Tony Blair who in 1997 led Labour back to power for the first time since 1979 in a landslide victory. The Labour manifesto included a commitment to holding a referendum on the creation of a Welsh Assembly.

Tony Blair Neil Jenkins

“There are some variations across social groups in Wales. Women clearly support a Welsh Assembly – by 37 to 29 – while men oppose one by 43 to 38.

There is strong majority support for devolution among those aged 18 to 34, while a majority of those voters aged over 65 oppose an assembly.”

An extract from the results of a Guardian/ICM poll taken a week before the referendum vote.

Ron Davies

“Good morning, and it is a very good morning in Wales.”

This how Ron Davies, Secretary of State for Wales in 1997 and leader of the Yes campaign started his speech when the result was announced. Watch footage of his speech here. Ron Davies also famously described Welsh devolution as a “process not an event.”

“When you win a national campaign by less than seven thousand votes it makes every last leaflet, every last foot-step, every last door knocked, worthwhile.”

Leighton Andrews, former Assembly Member and Welsh Government Minister, reflects on the Yes Campaign in a recent blog for the IWA. 50.3 per cent of those who voted in the referendum supported devolution – a narrow majority in favour of 6,721 votes.

Following the referendum, the UK Parliament passed the Government of Wales Act 1998. The Act established the National Assembly as a corporate body – with the executive (the Government) and the legislature (the Assembly) operating as one. The first Assembly elections were then held on 6 May, 1999.

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“The people of Anglesey in the slate quarries of Caernarfonshire used to be known as Pobol y Medra, because their answer to the question, ‘Can you do this?’ was ‘Medra’—‘I can. That must be our message throughout Wales. Let the whole of Wales become Pobol y Medra.”

Alun Michael, having just become the First Secretary of Wales on 12 May 1999. Read the full Plenary transcript where he made this speech.

Continue reading “Twenty quotes to mark twenty years since Wales said yes”

A Stronger Voice for Wales in a Changing Britain

You don’t have to be a constitutional expert to have your say on constitutional issues.

The National Assembly for Wales’s Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee has been looking at how Wales works with other Parliaments and Governments: the relationship between them, how well they work together and share ideas. By understanding current and past relationships, the Committee want to be able to recommend the best model of working for the future.

Different legislature buildings

But what sort of relationship does the people of Wales want our institution to have with other parliaments and governments?

Huw Irranca-Davies AM, Chair of the Committee will deliver a talk at this year’s National Eisteddfod focusing on what he will argue are the most profound constitutional challenges the people of Wales have faced for many generations, both as a nation – Wales – and as a family of nations within the United Kingdom. How Wales rises to those challenges will be the defining test of our generation.

The National Eisteddfod is of course a celebration of traditional Welsh culture and arts and language, but it is also a place where the identity of Wales and its people is constantly imagined and re-imagined. It is also where the politics and constitution of Wales – and Wales within the United Kingdom – have been hotly discussed and debated down the decades, on the Maes and off.

A UK which is negotiating its way out of membership of the EU. An England which is perhaps confused about its identity – or its multiple identities – and is experimenting with different forms of devolution in London and now in its grand metropolitan cities & regions. A Scotland which voted in one referendum to stay as part of the UK, with a government which toyed with the idea of a second referendum, yet has gone cool on the idea – at least for now. And the institutions of Northern Ireland in suspended animation with the threat of Direct Rule hanging over them. A Wales with a Scotland-style Reserved Powers Model finally, but with some expert commentators – and indeed the Welsh Government itself – arguing that the Wales Act in combination with the EU (Withdrawal) Bill risks rolling devolution backwards.

'Wales should not be afraid of leading the way in developing clear, succinct and understandable law'

In this turbulent, fast-changing environment, it is absolutely right to ask the fundamental question of how we ensure Wales has a strong voice right now, and a stronger voice in the future. In the midst of all the cacophony and clamour, the strongest possible voice for Wales in this union of nations is an absolute imperative.

Join us at this year’s Eisteddfod

Monday 7 August

Societies Pavilion 2

11.30 – 12.30

The Chair of the National Assembly for Wales’s Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee, Huw Irranca-Davies AM, will talk about its ‘Stronger Voice for Wales’ inquiry.

This will be followed by an opportunity to meet Members of the Committee to talk about these issues which will become particularly important as the UK prepares to leave the EU.

The Committee for the Scrutiny of the First Minister set to meet in Bangor

The Assembly Committee responsible for scrutinising the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, will meet to examine the Welsh Government’s approach to economic development.

First Minister Carwyn Jones AM will be appearing before the Committee for the Scrutiny of the First Minister from 10.00 until 12.00 on Friday, 14 July in the Management Centre at Bangor University.

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For this meeting the Committee will be focusing on the Welsh Government’s approach to developing the economy in Wales.

The Committee will also discuss other topical issues with the First Minister and would welcome suggestions of issues of major importance in North Wales to raise. If you would like something to be discussed, you can suggest a topic in advance.

The economy in Wales – an overview

Ahead of the development of a new Economic Strategy for Wales later in the year, the Committee will be raising issues of key importance with the First Minister. The strategy is being developed at a point when the Welsh economy faces a number of challenges, some of which are shared with the rest of the UK and some of which are unique to Wales:

  • Wales has the lowest Gross Value Added (GVA – a measure of economic output) per person.  Wales has a lower Gross Value Added (GVA) per person when compared with the other devolved nations and regions of England.
  • Many communities still struggle with the effects of deindustrialisation, and poverty and inequality are persistent challenges.
  • The short and longer-term impacts of Brexit on the economy remain highly uncertain.

Welsh economy: in numbers

The Welsh Government has developed and published a range of high-level indicators to monitor the overall performance of the Welsh economy. The rationale behind this is to reflect the outcomes most important to the people of Wales, and to give a more comprehensive picture than a single indicator can provide.

8 Key Economic indicators

The Welsh Government has made ‘prosperity for all’ a key priority in its Programme for Government 2016-2021. Two sections of this programme contain priorities which are critical to the success of the Welsh economy:

  • Prosperous and secure – including commitments relating to business and enterprise, inward investment, employment, and the rural economy.
  • United and connected – which includes measures to establish a National Infrastructure Commission, improve roads and public transport, improve digital connectivity, and promote a ‘fair’ society.

Continue reading “The Committee for the Scrutiny of the First Minister set to meet in Bangor”