Author: Blog

Organisational Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

Guest post from Manon Antoniazzi, Chief Executive and Clerk  – National Assembly for Wales.

Today is the first day of our Diversity and Inclusion week.

The senior team and I are wholly committed to ensuring that as an employer and parliamentary organisation, we are an exemplar in our promotion of diversity, inclusion, equality and provision of accessible services.

In order to deliver this, we have developed our Diversity and Inclusion Strategy and accompanying action plan which will help us deliver our diversity and inclusion vision and values.

The Strategy sets out how our staff deliver and promote inclusive, accessible services and achieve positive outcomes for people.

It will also help us plan how we comply with the duties placed on the Assembly Commission by the Government of Wales Act 2006 and also by the Equality Act 2010, covering each of the protected characteristics and other issues such as caring responsibilities, social mobility and other inequalities.

As an employer and service provider, our organisation is committed to ensuring that no-one is disadvantaged or discriminated against on these grounds: discriminatory behaviour will be dealt with via our disciplinary procedures. Also, as an employer, we encourage flexible working practices whilst accommodating our business needs.

In line with the Assembly Commission’s strategic goals, it is important to us that the Assembly continues to be accessible to the people of Wales and beyond: making it relevant, easy and meaningful for people to interact with it and contribute to its work.

It is also important to us that we behave as an inclusive employer, attracting and retaining talent, enabling everyone we employ to realise their full potential.

 


Manon Antoniazzi  – Chief Executive and Clerk


RESPECT

We are inclusive, kind, and value each other’s contributions in delivering excellent services.

PASSION

We are purposeful in our support of democracy and pull together to make a difference for the people of Wales.

PRIDE

We embrace innovation and celebrate our achievements together as a team.

WE ARE ONE TEAM

 

Scam HMRC Calls At The Assembly – What You Need To Know

You may have seen news reports about fraudulent callers posing as the HMRC, using National Assembly for Wales contact numbers. We wanted to explain a little bit about what’s going on and what you can do if you receive one of these calls.

About spoof calls

Callers are left a message saying they are being threatened with legal action, and are asked to call the number back. The number then leads to one of us here at the Assembly. Unfortunately, this is completely unconnected to any of our systems and we cannot stop this happening.

This type of scam is known as ‘spoofing’ – where a fraudster is able to fool the telephone network to give the person receiving the call a false caller ID.

It’s an issue that is also being experienced by other organisations with similar phone numbers. We have informed the National Crime Agency and Action Fraud of the issue and are also working with HMRC.

What to do if you receive a spoof call

If you’ve received one of these calls, please don’t call the number back. If you’re concerned, you can follow HMRC’s advice below.

Getting in Touch with the National Assembly for Wales If you need to get in touch with the National Assembly for Wales, you can contact us via:

Telephone: 0300 200 6565 – we welcome calls from people using Next Generation Text (NGT)

SMS: 07970 493958

Email: contact@assembly.wales

Access and complete our online enquiry form

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World Bee Day 2019: The Pierhead Bees

Summer 2018

During the bees’ first year at the Pierhead we are not expecting much honey, but they have settled in and are in good health.  Staff volunteers monitor the hives once a week, and we are also lucky enough to have a couple of members of staff with their own apiaries who bring a wealth of knowledge to maintaining the hives.

Despite being only a few months into the project the two hives are already demonstrating their own unique personalities, with Hive 2 definitely hosting a much rowdier crowd!

Spring 2019

The bees spent the autumn slimming down their numbers and building up their foodstock to make the over-wintering process as efficient as possible.

After our last inspection of them in November it was important not to open the hive and let them cool down too much.  They then spent the winter using up the food they’d stored in the cells, most of which will have been delicious honey.  Huddled together in the hive and vibrating their wings for warmth, they manage to keep the core temperature a toasty 35 degrees!  The bees will even rotate as a group- to keep the queen warm in the middle and ensure they all spend their fair share on the outside.

To help the bees get through the long winter and into spring before more natural food appears, we provided the bees with some fondant- a sugar based food rather like icing sugar.  You can see from the images below how they made use of it through February, March, and into April:

We also made some other provisions for the hives over winter.  As well as checking they had enough food we strapped them down to protect against high winds, and also fitted mouse guards.  Mice will love the warm dry space in the middle of winter, especially when it’s full of honey!

Our small efforts, coupled with the bees natural survival skills, meant the two hives made it through into spring safely.  We’ve checked on them to look at their food supply and health, as well as rearrange their frames a bit to ensure they have enough space.  They’re out foraging round the Bay now- enjoying the wealth of tree blossom and flowers the warm weather has brought.

Jamboree in the Senedd: Marking 20 years of devolution

The Senedd was a hive of activity on Bank Holiday Monday, 6 May 2019, when we hosted a fun-filled jamboree to mark 20 years of devolution in Wales.

Kicking things off with a colourful parade around the Bay were Samba Galez, whose samba drum beats could be heard all the way across the Cardiff Bay barrage in Penarth.

Inside the building, visitors were greeted by Dewi, an 8ft dragon made from over 185,00 individual LEGO® bricks. Upstairs, children were invited to “build their Wales” out of bricks on a giant map on the floor of the Senedd, complete a piece of the Senedd LEGO®mosaic, or just play with the DUPLO®.

There were workshops with bilingual beat-boxer Mr Phormula, and No Fit State were on hand to help visitors practice their juggling, hula-hooping and other circus skills. Younger guests enjoyed getting their hands dirty with the Science Boffins’ slimy experiments.  

Downstairs, one of the most popular performers were the incredible KLA Dance troupe who delighted the crowds with their dazzling dance routines.

Welsh language music played all day long, courtesy of a pedal powered disco ‘Disgo Ynni Da’, and there was a chance to hear the story of the Welsh language in a show by educational theatre company In Character.

To help mark the 20th anniversary of devolution, visitors were also invited to share their thoughts about shaping the future of Wales. A notice board posed the question What are your hopes and aspirations for your area by 2039? and we received contributions received from people of all ages.

Environmental issues featured prominently, with many people noting that they hoped to see less plastic waste by 2039. Building safer cycle routes was also a popular topic as well as promoting a healthier and fitter way of life, to improve the nation’s physical and mental wellbeing.

By the end of the day, over 1,350 people had come through the doors to celebrate with us, and learn a little bit more about the work of the National Assembly for Wales.

___

There’s more!

Over the summer months we will be holding a series of events to mark 20 years of devolution. A packed schedule will culminate in a festival of democracy at the end of September which will see names from the arts, sports, journalism and politics gather in Cardiff Bay.

Follow @AssemblyWales on Twitter or NationalAssemblyforWales on Facebook to keep up with the latest announcements.

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.