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A Visitor’s Guide to the Senedd

A Visitor’s Guide to the Senedd

Visiting Cardiff for the UEFA Champion’s League Final? You’ll find a warm welcome in the capital city of Wales. We are a country full of culture and heritage, and Cardiff is a fantastic place to soak up the atmosphere of this amazing sporting event.

If you find yourself in Cardiff Bay for the UEFA Champion’s League Festival, why not pay a visit to the Senedd and visit one of Wales’ most modern and most important buildings?  We’ve put together a handy guide to help you make the most of your visit.

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IMG_7855What is the Senedd?

The Senedd is the home of the National Assembly for Wales, and represents the heart of democracy in Wales. A modern parliamentary building which celebrated its tenth birthday last year, the Senedd is also one of the most environmentally friendly and sustainable buildings in Wales.

It is also a public building, welcoming visitors seven days a week, and boasts a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence.

Most importantly it’s free to visit and offers some of the best views in Cardiff Bay, so please come inside and have a look around.

What’s inside?

The debating chamber

The Senedd houses the debating chamber of the National Assembly for Wales. Look down below the huge funnel and you’ll be able to see where our politicians sit during parliamentary debates. Take one of our free tours to discover more about the building and what happens here.

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Café and gift shop

The Senedd has also has a café (more on that below) and a shop, which stocks local produce, souvenirs and gifts. Pick up Welsh whisky, Melin Tregwynt textile products and Senedd branded souvenirs as mementos of your visit.

Exhibitions

Next to the café is an exhibition area which regularly hosts a variety of events, exhibitions and other activities throughout the year. Come along and see what’s happening!

Take a guided tour

The best way to get to know the Senedd is through a guided tour. Visitors will learn about the history and the unique architecture of the building and discover more about the work of the National Assembly for Wales.

The tours are FREE. All you need to do is turn up and we’ll let you know what time the next one starts.

Enjoy a taste of Wales

The Senedd’s café offers a selection of hot and cold drinks, or you could sample some traditional Welsh treats – enjoy a Welsh cake or a slice of bara brith (Welsh fruit cake) with a nice British pot of tea.

The views from the seating area are fantastic – watch boats sailing on the sparkling water of Cardiff Bay, or view the hustle and bustle of the Champions League festival from below the Senedd’s impressive canopy.

Facilities and access

As with any government building, all visitors are required to go through security on their way in to the Senedd. Our security team are trained to be aware of the needs of visitors with disabilities, or who might have specific requirements based on their religious beliefs.

The Senedd is fully accessible with ramp access at the front of the building and lifts to all floors inside. A hearing loop system is available to hearing aid users.

The building offers fully assisted changing facilities and gender-neutral washrooms which are suitable for all.

Take a selfie with our Snapchat GeoFilter

If you are on Snapchat – keep an eye out for our special filter and share your photos on social media!

National Assembly for Wales Trip Advisor webpage

Senedd Facebook page

The National Day for Staff Networks – 10 May 2017

By Abi Lasebikan, Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Network Coordinator and Co-Chair of the Assembly’s Race, Ethnicity and Cultural Heritage Workplace Equality Network

National Day for Staff networks log
Logo for the National Day for Staff Networks

The National Day for Staff Networks will be the UK’s first ever day dedicated to celebrating all workplace networks, recognising the value and contribution networks provide to organisations and the fact that networks are making work better.

The day aims to encourage staff networks to celebrate collaboratively and shout about their achievements, and to change the conversation about workplace networks so that they are seen as business critical and effective mechanisms of innovation and inclusion.

Our networks are referred to as Workplace Equality Networks (WENs) to reflect the fact that they are open to all Assembly Members, AMSS, Commission staff and employees of our on-site contractors to join either members or as allies. They are a place for people who identify with a protected characteristic group and/or have an interest in matters relating to a particular diversity strand, to come together. We recognise that anyone, not only those directly affected, can have an interest in a particular equality issue.

The Assembly recognises that the WENs are instrumental in helping the organisation to attain its aim to achieve a safe, inclusive and diverse working environment for all and to be a democratic institution and legislature that delivers effectively for all the people of Wales. We acknowledge that the participation of our networks is therefore a critical part of the employment relationship and not an addition function to an employee’s job description.

We are therefore pleased to take part in the day, with the WENs organising activities and articles to promote the networks and our recognition of their value to us.

Continue reading “The National Day for Staff Networks – 10 May 2017”

The Right to Buy in Wales is changing

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I’m John Griffiths AM (@JGriffithsLab), the Chair of the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee.

John Griffiths AM

About the Abolition of the Right to Buy Bill

On 13 March, the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children, Carl Sargeant AM, introduced the Abolition of the Right to Buy and Associated Rights (Wales) Bill into the Assembly. The Government’s aim for the proposed law is to protect the supply of social housing in Wales by ending all variations of the Right to Buy and the Right to Acquire.

What do the proposed changes mean?

The Right to Buy to buy for tenants of local authorities and registered landlords would be abolished after a period of at least one year after the introduction of the law. By introducing the proposed law, the Welsh Government’s stated aim is to protect the Welsh stock of social housing from reducing further, ensuring it is available to provide safe, secure and affordable housing for people who are unable to access the housing market to buy or rent a home.

Some local authorities, including Flintshire, Carmarthenshire and Anglesey have already suspended the Right to Buy scheme. The proposed law would end the Right to Buy scheme in all local authorities across Wales.

How could the changes affect me?

In making sure that existing tenants are aware of the changes, the proposed law requires the Welsh Government to publish information on its effects before abolition takes place, and social landlords must also in turn provide that information to every affected tenant within two months of the proposed law coming into force. After a waiting period of at least one year after coming into force, all rights will be abolished. This means every affected tenant can still exercise their Right to Buy within that period, but not after.

The Right to Buy across the UK

The Right to Buy and Associated Rights have already been brought to an end by the Scottish Government in Scotland, but a different approach is being taken in England by the UK Government. The UK Government has introduced its own plans to extend the Right to Buy Policy to more homes.

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The work of the Committee

The National Assembly for Wales’s Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee is a group of eight Assembly Members from across Wales who reflect the political makeup of the Assembly. Our job is to scrutinise decisions of the Welsh Government on matters within our remit to ensure they are in the best interests of Wales and its communities.

As the subject matter of the proposed law falls within the remit of the Committee, we have been asked to look at its ‘general principles’ or main aims. This is called ‘Stage 1’, and we use this part of the process to hear evidence and prepare a report making recommendations to the Welsh Government for changes to the proposed law if necessary. We have until 7 July to do this.

Getting involved

In May, the Committee intends to hold public engagement sessions across Wales to hear tenants’ views about the proposed law and the implications for them. These views will help inform the Committee’s inquiry alongside the written and oral evidence received.

If you are interested in taking part in these sessions, or would like us to visit, please e-mail celyn.cooper@assembly.wales.

A DialogueApp page has also been set up so that you can have your say on the Bill and share some of your ideas on how the Bill could be improved.

Updates

For all the latest information and developments, you can:

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Assembly recognised once again with nomination in the Action on Hearing Loss Excellence Wales Awards

Logo for the Action on Hearing Loss Excellence Wales Awards

We are delighted to have once again been shortlisted for recognition at the Action on Hearing Loss Excellence Wales Awards. This year we have been shortlisted for the Service Excellence category and are also entered into the People’s Choice Award.

We constantly strive to excel in the services we provide for people who are deaf or have hearing loss and are always looking for new opportunities to enhance this service. Currently, we provide services for people who are deaf or have hearing loss by:

  • Engaging with deaf organisations across Wales. We deliver presentations to encourage democratic engagement and use BSL videos and communication support when necessary.
  • Ensuring that we have loop systems available across our estate and portable amplification loops for people taking part in tours.
  • Providing BSL and subtitles for weekly First Minister’s Questions – this is the most popular watched aspect of Assembly Business.
  • Using online consultation fora like Diolog and Loomio to increase online democratic engagement.

We have also ensured that our staff have the confidence and support to effectively communicate with people who are deaf or have a hearing loss. We have done this by:

  • Rolling out mandatory online equality training for all staff that includes disability awareness and reasonable adjustments when communicating with people who are deaf or have a hearing loss. In addition, many staff, including all of our public-facing staff have undergone Disability Confidence training to ensure that they can effectively respond to people’s needs. Many staff have supplemented this with further deaf awareness training, achieving BSL to level 2.
  • Developing factsheets on promoting disability confidence, making reasonable adjustments, tips for effective communication and booking communication support. These have been shared with all staff through our intranet.

You can vote for the Assembly to win the People’s Choice Award at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/excellencewales

 

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Ministerial Appointments: Pre appointment hearings

Simon Thomas AC/AMSimon Thomas AM, Chair of the Finance Committee, made a statement in Plenary on 5th April 2017 on the Committee’s behalf, outlining its experience of their pre appointment hearing for the Chair of the Welsh Revenue Authority.

The Welsh Revenue Authority (WRA) will be established to collect and manage devolved Welsh taxes and will become operational from April 2018. The WRA is non-ministerial department of the Welsh Government. The Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government believed a pre appointment hearing would be beneficial given the unique status and governance arrangements for the Chair of the WRA.

The Committee felt encouraged by the Cabinet Secretary’s commitment to transparency and accountability in recruiting public appointments, and welcomed the opportunity to help improve this procedure future pre appointment hearings. The Committee recognised the Cabinet Secretary’s commitment to pre-appointment hearings, indeed, the Cabinet Secretary published an article in 2012 where he acknowledged the importance of pre appointment hearings. The Chair recognises that the Cabinet Secretary has taken the first steps to bring the Assembly in line with other parliamentary bodies who already have an established process in relation to pre appointment hearings.

In the Committee Statement the Chair detailed the constructive results the hearing produced; including giving the candidate exposure to parliamentary scrutiny in a public setting, something which an appointee to a post of this level needs to be prepared for.
In the statement, the Chair voiced that, as with any new procedure there is room for improvement. He outlined the Finance Committee’s suggestions for future pre-appointment hearings to include;

  • A statement by the Cabinet Secretary outlining why the Minister/Cabinet Secretary believes the candidate is suitable for the post.
  • Additional reporting time to be factored into the timescales.
  • Establishing a set list of public appointments that require a pre-appointment hearing.
  • The Chair’s vision for pre appointment hearings in the future is for them to strengthen transparency and accountability of ministerial appointments, which will increase public confidence in decisions made by both the Welsh Government and the Assembly.

You can find out more about the Assembly’s Finance Committee by visiting assembly.wales/seneddfinance. You can also follow the committee on Twitter @SeneddFinance.
Continue reading “Ministerial Appointments: Pre appointment hearings”

LGBT History Month – The Importance of Role Models

Having visible LGBT role models can have a transformative impact on creating a truly inclusive workplace and society.

Stonewall’s guide, Role Models: Being lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender in Wales, features inspirational stories from a diverse range of people from different backgrounds working in different areas. You will recognise a couple of them!

Stonewall have also published LGBT voices, a collection of personal stories from LGBT people who have lived through inequalities and experiences rarely reflected on television, in books, in films or in schools.

It is of course important to note that different LGBT groups will have different role models. The Pride Power List 2016 contains a diverse selection of LGBT role models: male, female, non-binary, trans, disabled, Black, Asian, people of faith, older people, and people from a range of backgrounds and careers.

Here, some members of our LGBT workplace network explain why role models are important to them:

“The people I have a lot of respect for are the people who are prepared to go that one step further and put their head above the parapet and challenge the status quo. You shouldn’t underestimate the impact that visibility makes to people. It makes a difference to people when it’s not abstract anymore. There are still a lot of stereotypical ideas so a diverse range of role models is important. I want to be part of creating a modern Wales, a Wales that’s representative.” Hannah Blythyn, AM

“It’s important to have diverse role models; one person is not the totality of gay experience.” Rhys Morgan, Translation and Reporting Service

“It’s very important that there are visible LGBT people within the organisation, that people see that being from a minority group hasn’t hindered peoples’ ability to reach senior levels. We have young people who say it took three years to come out in their previous organisation and three weeks here. If you’ve reached a position of success, if you can inspire someone else, if you can lead by example, you should.” Craig Stephenson, Director of Commission Services and Co-Chair of OUT-NAW

“I think role models help show that it is ok to be you.  They show you that there should be no limits on who you can be and what you can achieve.  The more role models there are and the more diversity they represent, the more we can break down barriers and challenge misconceptions.” Lisa Bowkett, Head of Finance and Co-Chair of OUT-NAW.

LGBT History Month – what progress we’ve made!

Photograph of Claire Clancy wearing a rainbow garland to prepare for Pride Cymru

By Claire Clancy, Chief Executive and Clerk of the Assembly

Since I joined the Assembly in 2007, I have seen a tremendous amount of change in making the Assembly more inclusive.

As this is my last LGBT History Month in the Assembly I have been reflecting specifically on how far we have come in our support of LGBT people and the promotion of LGBT equality. Over the years, we have won many awards for this work, we have increased our outreach, attended more events, reviewed and enhanced policies, provided training and raised awareness to make us a more inclusive employer.

We are very lucky to have an excellent workplace network in OUT-NAW and a dedicated Diversity and Inclusion Team who work extremely hard to further LGBT equality. I would like to take this opportunity to publically thank them for their work.

During my time here, I have had lots of conversations with Craig, co-chair of OUT-NAW, about how we can continue to make progress. I’m very happy to say that I was the first person to sign up to the Allies programme.

Last summer, I had lots of fun joining the network and LGBT Allies at the Pride March through the streets of Cardiff. It was a wonderful experience to see so many people celebrating diversity and inclusion.

I am proud of everything that we have achieved and I am proud to be an ally. I look forward to following the continued success of the Assembly. See you at Pride!

Logo with a rainbow that reads Proud to an Allylogo for LGBT History Month 2017logo for Stonewall's Top 100 employers 2017     logo for OUT NAW the Assembly's LGBT workplace network

photo of Assembly staff at Pridephoto of LGBT staff and allies with the rainbow flag