Author: Blog

Meet the team: Security Officers

Our Security Officers are responsible for the safety and security of all those who visit or work at the National Assembly for Wales. Here, some of the team talk about the role…

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

Shahzad

Shahzad, Security Officer

“I have been working in Security now for six months. I have had the most amazing and wonderful experiences.  To be able to work and be part of the Welsh Assembly staff is an honour in itself and such an accolade to have.

The National Assembly holds diversity and multi-cultural ethos in its core values. I have seen Welsh local school children, charities, different ethnic backgrounds and organisations from all walks of life during my role as a Security Officer. Local people from the Association of Muslim professionals to the Autistic Society to the local woman’s forum to name a few. I feel that we have so much to offer from Ty Hywel, the Senedd and our iconic Pierhead buildings. 

Local cultures and public in general from all walks of life visit us on a daily basis and we are such a symbol of hope and prosperity. Within the last 6 months I have seen a positive change within myself and flourished in terms of commitment, resilience and being able to adjust to business needs and requirements. I have grown within myself and every day is a learning curve.

I am currently learning Welsh and have been on numerous courses.  There are so many opportunities to enhance skills and develop within my role.  I am also able to provide time to my family due to different shift patterns and work life balance. 

Being able to speak different dialects from the Asian background the joy it brings to the public and myself I felt being really helpful.  This was only possible whilst I am working for the Welsh Assembly.

The positive culture and friendly professional attitude coupled with hard work is in the heart of what we do in Security. So we are firm at the same time in touch with our customer service and adhere to a professional code at all times.

I am proud to be part of the National Assembly Security team and look forward to a long career.

The personal support I receive is the best I have seen in my entire career.  From my colleagues to my managers and senior managers the support and help I receive have been absolutely wonderful.”


Chris

Chris, Security Officer

“My responsibilities as a Security Officer vary day to day.  It’s a challenging role that requires constant vigilance and composure which is demanding yet rewarding. I witness the team ethic instilled within the department every day and a consistency that is essential for the provision of public safety. It’s great to work alongside the police and external agencies to maintain the wellbeing of all visitors and staff on the Assembly estate.

The frequency of events and role rotation keeps each day interesting, from weekly Plenary to National Eisteddfod, Champions League to Grand Slam Celebrations.  There are plenty of opportunities to develop skills by accessing on-site training or courses and I look forward to further developing my role at the Assembly.”

Stacey

Stacey, Security Officer

“Working as part of the security team is a varied role and no two days are the same. We get to engage with stakeholders across the entire organisation and with members of the public from all walks of life. We also get to be involved with the running of the political environment within the assembly working closely with the members themselves. We work a varied shift pattern which elevates the same mundane hours of work week in week out.

The role also has a training element encouraging the team to be trained in first aid, conflict management and evacuation procedures to name a few.

We also get the opportunity to work alongside prestigious events such as homecoming events for the welsh rugby team, Geraint Thomas’ homecoming and the GB Olympic teams.

There is always something to be a part of and the variety of the role is what makes it so interesting.”


Security Officers are the first point of contact for Assembly Members, staff and all visitors to the Senedd, Pierhead and Tŷ Hywel buildings.  They must be able to provide first class customer service, along with the necessary skills to protect the people, property and equipment within the estate.


We are currently recruiting for new Security Officers.

Find out more or make an application on our recruitment pages.

A Committee visit to the Basque country in pictures

Members of the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee with representatives of the Basque Parliament.

Purpose

In March the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee visited the Basque Country to explore the ways in which civil society and legislation in the Basque Country promotes and enhances language acquisition.  These examples of best practice from other countries, similar in size to Wales, will be used to inform the inquiry into ‘Supporting the Welsh Language’.

The key topics the Committee were:

  • To explore the impact of the partial devolution of broadcasting in the Basque Country, benefits and drawbacks and funding issues.
  • To examine the effects of the numerous broadcast outlets offered in the Basque language.
  • To gain greater understanding of language policies and strategies adopted and implemented in the Basque Country, particularly around education, economy and public administration.
  • How the Basque Government has approached language planning in the region.
  • To examine the impact and effectiveness of education policies in the region, from early years through to vocational and university education.
  • Promotion and facilitation of the language in the community and with the private sector.
  • The balance between language promotion and legislation.

EiTB – Basque TV and Radio Broadcaster

Members visited EiTB (Euskal Irrati Telebista), which is the publicly funded broadcaster for Basque and Spanish language TV and radio output in the Basque Country. The visit provided Committee Members with an opportunity to tour the main offices and broadcasting facilities.

The Committee met with Maite Iturbe, the General Director of EiTB, and Odile Kruzeta, Radio and Editorial Coordination Director. The General Director outlined the background to the organisation and current provision and output offered.

CEIP Educational Centre – Siete Campas Zorrozgoiti Elementary School

Following the visit to EiTB, Members visited a Basque immersion school in an area of Bilbao called Zorrotza – an area with high social deprivation, and also home to many of Bilbao’s immigrant population. Members visited a pre-school classroom, where they were presented with a poster with a Basque proverb, which had also been translated into Welsh. Members were then taken to a primary classroom to see how the children learn in the Basque language.

Royal Basque Language Academy

Members visited the Royal Basque Language Academy in Bilbao, and met with the Vice-Secretary, Erramun Osa. The Royal Academy of the Basque Language is the official body responsible for the Basque language, which includes carrying out research and standardisation of the language.

The Vice-Secretary presented the Chair of the Committee with a copy of Linguae Vasconum Primitiae – The first fruits of the Basque language.  The first copy was published in 1545.

Basque Government

On the final day of the visit, Members visited Vitoria-Gasteiz, the Capital City of the Basque Autonomous Community and seat of Government. Here, Members met with the Vice-Minister of Linguistic Policy, Miren Dobaran and Eugenio Jimenez, Director of Centers and Planning.

Members heard that after Franco’s dictatorship ended, some 40 Basque immersion schools opened – the children who attended were predominantly from those families who continued to speak the Basque language in the home during the Franco period, even though the language was outlawed.

Members heard that during Franco’s dictatorship, clandestine schools existed, known as Ikastola, which had helped keep the language alive during this period.

The provision of Basque language education has been critical to the survival of the language, and has proven to be the most successful aspect of Basque language planning. It has been successful both in terms of volume of activity and numbers of participants involved. It has also received significant sums of Government funding over the last three decades.

There is a long-term socio-economic plan to increase usage of Basque in the private sector, and also to develop digital media and productions in the Basque language.

The committee met with Maite Alonso, Vice-Minister of Education, Eugenio Jimenez, Director of Centers and Planning, Miren Dobaran, Vice-Minister of Linguistic Policy at the Basque Government.

Basque Parliament

Before leaving the Basque Country, Members visited the Basque Parliament. Here, they were greeted by the Basque President, Bakartxo Tejeria, along with other Members of the Basque Parliament.

All Committee Members signed the book of honour to mark their visit to the Parliament and the President presented the Chair of the Committee with a wood carving of a tree (which is symbolic to the Basque people) to mark the Committee’s visit.

After the presentation, Members took their place in a committee meeting room, where a joint session was held with Members of the European Affairs and External Relations Commission.

During the meeting, Members heard that there had been great effort and investment to promote the language, but that the next step was to increase Basque language use and to mainstream the language across all government bodies, including the health service.

For more on this inquiry, please visit the Committee’s webpage.

Autism Awareness Week 2019

As this year’s Autism Awareness Week 2019 comes to an end, our guest blogger, Emma Durman, Director at Autside, sharest her experience with autism.

I was asked to write this guest blog after sitting on a recent ‘Disability Leaders Panel’ event at Cardiff University with Abi Lasebikan, the Diversity and Inclusion Officer at the National Assembly for Wales.

There are many aspects to who I am, disability is just one aspect and it does not  constrain me it informs me!

It’s ironic to me how the world works – the twists and turns of fate. Because all of the reasons I finally ended up in such a privileged position, were all the reasons I used to believe I never would.

Let me explain that a little more. I’m many things. I’m a mother, a partner, a carer, a friend, a sister, a proud Welsh woman from a small industrial town where the smell of sulphur often welcomes you home. I am a writer, a reader, an academic, a tv and movie enthusiast, a ‘geek’, an animal lover and a huge fan of cheese! I am also currently a co-director of Autside, a training and consultancy company that specialises in Autism and neurodiversity, and a final year MSc Autism and Related Conditions student at Swansea University.

I am all of these things – and I also happen to be disabled. I’m Autistic, and I have ADHD, CFS/ME, Fibromyalgia, IBS, Asthma, Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, Chronic specific back and hip pain and widespread nerve pain, and likely Ehler Danlos Hypermobility Syndrome.

People often say that disability shouldn’t define you, but I disagree. My disabilities/conditions absolutely do define me., but then so do all the other things I listed first.

They don’t necessarily CONSTRAIN me though. They inform me, my character, my goals, my interests and even my abilities and challenges. It was when I finally started to embrace all these things about myself, to work with them rather than against, to begin to let go of all the pieces of shame and guilt that had built up over a lifetime a little at a time, that everything started to get better. I began to find a community of people that understood me and could see a more holistic view of who I was, including my business partner Donna, who didn’t look at me and see disability as a dealbreaker. In fact, hard as it is for me to believe most days after a lifetime of disability being the first and sometimes only thing some people see,  I often wonder if she sees disability at all. I’m pretty sure she sees ABILITY, which I think is why we work so well together, and why her respect informs my growing confidence day upon day.

My Education and Employment journey.

I had struggled in education and then employment my whole life. Despite being told I had the intellect to contribute I couldn’t seem to keep up with everyone else. I barely made it out of school with 6 GCSES after a prolonged absence and a return on a reduced timetable. I went to college but struggled to attend lectures every day, and after my mentor – despite my grades being high – told me it was pointless my being there as my health meant I could never sustain any of my chosen career paths I gave up on education.

Thus, I began a cycle of obtaining jobs that I worked incredibly hard at and often did very well in, until I didn’t. Burnout would creep up again and again, with me pushing myself until my life consisted of work and sleep, barely able to wash, eat and clean my clothes. I would cut back on social demands and hobbies, desperately trying to keep up, until I would break, mentally, physically and emotionally.

I have been a retail supervisor, a personal assistant, both to a senior partner in a law firm and within the Chief Executive’s department of the local authority. I have been a trainee legal executive. Jobs I loved and valued, that gave me value, and ultimately that I had to give up.

For me the interview process was always easy. So were the application forms. It was maintaining the position that stung me every time.

Lessons learnt and tips for overcoming barriers to employment.

I was only diagnosed Autistic three years ago after the arrival and subsequent diagnosis of our daughter alerted me to the possibility I might be. I didn’t even know that I had different sensory, social and processing needs, so how could I begin to communicate what support and accommodations I might need?

Societal barriers have been as much to blame for any of my difficulties and failures as anything inherent to me. If I had been diagnosed and supported earlier, I may have flourished long ago as I am lucky enough to be doing now. The social model of disability is over three decades old and yet we still have so far to go in recognising how societal barriers can impact the level of disability someone experiences.

Reducing environmental demands, providing social support and training that increases understanding throughout the workforce can all help us make those boundaries wider, less restrictive, allowing us to accomplish more in a safe way that doesn’t damage our overall health and wellbeing. With the ever increasing incredible array of technology we possess it is easier than ever to work flexibly or from home, either permanently or for part of the time which can have a huge impact on productivity and inclusion for lots of people, myself included. If my story is anything to go by, the importance of allies in the workplace, like my partner Donna, is perhaps the most important thing of all, because they are the doorway to everything else.

Final thoughts

We need to understand that the disabled, Autistic and neurodiverse community is as beautifully varied and eclectic as the rest of humanity, possessing of diverse and wonderful strengths that we are underutilising to our detriment.

In fact, disability often brings as much as it challenges. It can increase resilience, determination, strength and passion. In my case it has also made me grateful for the opportunities that come to me, in a way I may not otherwise have been. I am loyal, and hardworking, and with a streak of perfectionism that is both a skill and a challenge!

I am incredibly lucky, to have found a supportive business partner, who sees my strengths, value and talents AND acknowledges my difficulties, struggles and limits, instead of dismissing either. Many disabled people find that either their strengths and autonomy, or needs and limits are overlooked and ignored. We need to get better at the balance that allows us to see both without negating the other. Limits shouldn’t be taboo. In fact, recognising and respecting our limits, and pacing ourselves accordingly can be the key to a meaningful life, and optimum employment.

Recent achievements like winning a Welsh Housing Award for our work with mi-space, a contractor specialising in the social housing sector and speaking at an All Wales Counter terrorism conference seem at odds with the version of me that struggles to get out of bed, to wash, to eat, to think clearly, but they are both me. I am Lucky to have found the support and flexibility I needed to thrive. Imagine if everyone, like me, was able to access those same supports. Imagine what could be achieved and the contributions that would be made. We need to do better, as employers, as a society. Because not to do so is a shameful waste of potential and  doing so could mean amazing things.

Visiting the National Assembly for Wales: World autism awareness week


Here at the National Assembly for Wales we are proud to promote equality for everyone.

L-R: External images of Ty Hywel, The Senedd and Pierhead buildings

We work to make sure that our buildings are accessible to visitors with autism.

The Senedd is the main public building of the National Assembly for Wales. Boasting an iconic debating chamber, stunning architecture and views over Cardiff Bay, it is also free for the public to visit throughout the year.

The Pierhead is the red brick building with a clock tower, next to the Senedd. One of the oldest and most beautiful buildings in Cardiff Bay, it’s open for the public to explore daily.

Tŷ Hywel is the office building behind the Senedd where Assembly Members and staff of the National Assembly for Wales are based. Although this is not a visitor attraction, people may enter the building to visit an Assembly Member or a member of staff. We also offer educational workshops in this building, where we have a special debating chamber just for children and young people. 

We have created a webpage to provide information for visitors with autism, and guides which cover each building in detail. We look at the Senedd, Pierhead and Ty Hywel buildings and some of the things visitors may be worried about, including:

  • Security checks, and what happens when you enter the buildings
  • Noises to expect and recordings of the sounds you might hear
  • Sensory issues such as lighting and smells
  • Information about our Quiet Rooms, which can be used for prayer, quiet reflection, or a calm break for people struggling with sensory overload.

You can also ask for any of the guides in:

  • Hard copy
  • Easy read version
  • Large print
  • Braille

You can find all the guides, sound recordings and further information on our Visitors with an Autism Spectrum Condition webpage.

As well as visitors with autism spectrum conditions, we strive to make our buildings accessible to all visitors. Our facilities include:

  • Ramps and lifts
  • Autism-friendly labelling
  • Hearing loop systems
  • Wheelchair hire
  • A range of toilet facilities including gender neutral toilets, accessible toilets, a Changing Places facility with adult hoist, and toilets for people with mobility issues
  • Disabled parking spaces.

More information on the things we have included in the design of our estate, to ensure the building meets its target of being exemplar in terms of accessibility, is available on our Security and Access webpage.

We hope you enjoy your visit and welcome feedback on improvements that can be made.


More information on our commitment to Diversity and Inclusion is set out in our Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2016-21.

If you have any questions you can contact us on 0300 200 6565 or email contact@assembly.wales.


Get the Guide (PDF, 137 KB)

Welsh Rates of Income Tax: A ‘siginificant milestone’ in Welsh devolution

Guest post from Llyr Gruffydd AM, Chair of the Finance Committee – National Assembly for Wales

Almost twenty years after the National Assembly for Wales was founded, Welsh devolution will pass another significant milestone on 6 April.

Income Tax rates decided in Wales will apply to Wales, affecting around two billion pounds of tax collected here each year.

Your income tax rate will remain the same for 2019-20, a decision voted through by the Assembly for the first time in January.

From Saturday 6 April, each band of UK Income Tax will reduce by 10p, and Welsh Rates will be set, one for each band, at 10p.

This means no change overall, though Income Tax could be set higher or lower than that of England in future years by setting different Welsh Rates.

Devolved income tax structure

This welcome change brings more accountability to the Welsh Government by tying the amount of money available in their budget more closely to the performance of the Welsh Economy, and the decisions the Welsh Government make.

We don’t need to do anything individually, but if you live in Wales, whether or not your place of work is in Wales, you should have received a letter from HMRC with your new tax code, which now begins with a “C” for Cymru, and may want to check with HMRC that your details are correct if you haven’t.

This may seem a technical change, but I think it worth a moment on Saturday to stop and note the very first Income Tax rates set in Wales in modern times; yet another sign of our growing confidence as a nation.



Llyr Gruffydd is a regional Assembly Member for North Wales. He is currently the Chair of the National Assembly for Wales Finance Committee.

 



Find out more about the work of the Finance Committee on the Committee’s homepage or @SeneddFinance on Twitter.

 

World Autism Awareness Day, 2 April 2019

Sarah Morgan

Our guest blog comes from Sarah A Morgan, Senior Branch Engagement Officer at the National Autistic Society – Wales, as we mark World Autism Awareness Week.

 

National Autistic Society Picture of fundraisers with caption World Autism Awareness Week is back

 

NAS Autism Friendly logo

As an Autism Friendly Award holder we are proud to mark World Autism Awareness Week. The Autism Friendly Award demonstrates our commitment to being an accessible venue for visitors who are on the autism spectrum.

 

 

Below are some of the things the Assembly does in order to achieve the accreditation, we have:

• a section on our website dedicated to visitors with autism. The section provides information links to specifically designed resources in different formats;

• designated quiet areas for people with autism to rest and de-stress;

• ensured relevant staff received disability confidence training, which includes a section on autism;

• identified Autism Champions from across the organisation, and

• established links with National Autistic Society and work closely with them to ensure we are an organisation that engages with everyone in Wales, including people with autism.

We like to think that we are a modern, accessible parliamentary body with which people from a diverse range of backgrounds can easily and meaningfully interact, because our facilities, services and information are accessible to all. However, don’t take our word for it, here is what Sarah from the NAS had to say about visiting the Senedd with a group of their volunteers and service users.

“I have been to the Senedd for many different occasions, on the last visit I attend a guided tour with a group of our clients. This tour was during Disability Access day and it was specifically designed to caterer for individuals who are autistic.

Knowing that the Senedd had achieved their NAS autism Friendly Award it was a chance to see if they were applying their best practice work in practice.

The tour was very easy to book and the website was very clear and descriptive of what may happen on the day. Soon arrival we knew we would have to go through security, but they were very helpful. Then going to reception, we found the staff were once again very helpful and friendly. Our experience was all very good and it was not long before the tour guide was there to assist.

The guide was so informative and had a knowledge of the specific requirements of the group. He tailored the tour to the needs of the individuals and made it very fun and Interactive. He was always checking on the group and adjusted things accordingly.

Everyone enjoyed the tour and it was a great success, I think we all took a lot away from the visit.

The Senedd really is doing a good job of helping everyone enjoy their experience. The staff seemed very aware of Autism and how they could help make the group enjoy their visit. It is always very pleasing to know that a business is autism Friendly, but it was great to experience this first hand.”

Picture of World Autism Day logo

Public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Bill

Guest blog by Llyr Gruffydd, Chair of Finance Committee, National Assembly for Wales . This article first appeared in the Western Mail.

Darllenwch yr erthygl yma yn Gymraeg

Llyr Gruffydd AC/ AM
Llyr Gruffydd AC/ AM

This afternoon, 20 March 2019, the National Assembly will vote to approve the Public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Bill. If the Bill is approved, it will go forward for Royal Assent and the provisions will become law in Wales.

The Ombudsman in Wales has a vital role in ensuring any member of the public who believes they have suffered injustice, hardship or service failure by a public body is able to make a complaint. The Ombudsman’s service is free, impartial and independent of the Welsh Government.  

The types of complaints the Ombudsman can receive include ambulances taking too long to arrive; failing to find the right education for children with additional needs; social housing not being repaired properly, amongst many other issues.

The Finance Committee introduced this Bill because we believe the Ombudsman’s role should be strengthened to improve social justice and protect the most vulnerable in society. This is particularly pertinent in a society where the most vulnerable people are often most reliant on public services.

The Bill will achieve this by making it easier for people to complain, removing the barrier that a complaint must be in writing. People should not be discriminated against or put off from complaining. People will be able to complain orally or through British Sign Language and maybe, in future through other digital technologies. This will help vulnerable and deprived members of society.

The Bill will also allow the Ombudsman to start his own investigations without receiving a formal complaint where there is evidence to suggest there could be a wider public interest issue. People are often reluctant or scared to come forward so they can complain anonymously and if the strict criteria is satisfied the Ombudsman can investigate.

Currently, a person has to make separate complaints to different organisations for public and private health treatment. The Bill allows the Ombudsman to consider both the private and public elements, if without doing so, the Ombudsman is unable to completely investigate the relevant action by the public service provider. This will be a fairer process giving answers to whether a person received appropriate medical treatment throughout the whole of their health care pathway.

The other main change is the Ombudsman can develop a model complaints handling process for public service bodies. This aims to drive improvements and help achieve consistency across the public sector.

This Bill represents a significant amount of hard work undertaken over a number of years and a rigorous scrutiny process by Assembly committees.

I hope the Assembly approves the Bill today; we need a Wales that provides excellent public services. Should a service fall short of an individual’s expectations, they will have confidence in the Ombudsman to investigate and make things right.

Jocelyn Davies, former Chair of the Finance Committee of the Fourth Assembly:

“I started work on extending the powers of the Ombudsman back in the Fourth Assembly. I hope the Bill is passed today as I’m looking forward to a future where we have excellent public services but when things do go wrong, the Ombudsman is able to investigate, bring redress for individuals and make improvements to public services that we can all benefit from.”


If you’d like further information about the Finance Committee, or would like to keep up to date with their work, you can visit the Committee’s webpage.

You can also follow the Committee on twitter @SeneddFinance