Category: Assembly People

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

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.

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.

National Apprenticeship Week 2019

Three young people outside the Senedd
Three of the Assembly’s former apprentices outside the Senedd

Emily Morgan, who now works for our Estates and Facilities Management team, talks about her experience at the Assembly…

After completing an art foundation diploma in Glamorgan University I took a gap year to hopefully pave a career for myself.  I was considering going to university to study art when I became aware of the opportunity to become an Apprentice in the National Assembly for Wales.  I automatically knew I should apply as I knew that the Assembly was an exemplary employer.

I completed an application form using the STAR technique and sent it off with the hope of being successful. To my delight I was invited to attend an assessment centre where I was required to undergo a number of assessments specific to the post. The moment I arrived I was made to feel very welcome by the HR team. I was initially very nervous, but my nerves were soon put to rest by the friendly staff around me. After the assessment centre I was invited to interview. I attended my first panel interview and was made to feel at ease by the interview panel straight away. I received a letter a week later informing me that I had been successful, and that I had become an Apprentice! Needless to say I was overwhelmed and very excited!

During my induction, I was welcomed by my head of service, my team and my line manager. I was placed in the Resources group which consists of Human Resources, Governance and Audit and Financial Services. I have worked mainly within Human Resources; where I was based predominantly in the learning and development team and the recruitment team.

Throughout my Apprenticeship I have gained Essential Skills, an NVQ qualification, valuable work experience and some fantastic memories. The Apprenticeship scheme was the best decision I have ever made. I have gained a wealth of administrative experience and have made friends for life. After passing my NVQ and my team support interview, I gained employment in Commission and Member Support as a team support. I have since received further promotion and am now settling into my role as an Executive Officer in Estates and Facilities Management.  

For the first time I have realised that University is not necessarily the only path into employment. The Apprenticeship scheme has taken me down a different path, but it has definitely been the right one for me.

Find out more: Apprenticeships at the National Assembly for Wales​​​

Bi Visibility Day 2018

 

By Rhayna Mann

Twenty years ago I had just finished university. I was travelling, having adventures, meeting new people and beginning to consider my future. Doesn’t that sound idyllic? The other side of this story is that I was also coming out as a bisexual woman. Why do I put a bit of a negative tint on that? Because it was a confusing and challenging event that didn’t happen overnight.

As a youngster I was attracted to women as well as men, but growing up in a small valleys mining village these thoughts were seen as unnatural. To be gay was frowned upon and it was frightening to me as a young child to see how some gay men (because there were no visible gay women) were avoided and talked about. I grew up thinking there was something wrong with me, but the feelings I had towards men and women remained.

By the time I was eighteen, the public narrative around gay people was shifting. It was ok to be gay – as long as you lived in a cosmopolitan city or were famous! But what struck me the most were the people who were acknowledged in the media as being bisexual, people such as David Bowie, Marlon Brando, James Dean, Freddie Mercury and Janis Joplin. I looked up to these people, they filled me with inspiration and awe….and they were bisexual. To be able to identify with someone whom you can look up to is very powerful.

At the age of eighteen I came out. It was incredibly uneventful, I was a bit disappointed. My friends responded with ‘thought so’ and carried on being my friends. My parents however introduced me to my first experience of passive biphobia; they believed that being bisexual isn’t real or legitimate and dismissed it as being ‘just a phase’.

My second experiences of bi-phobia happened throughout my twenties; when starting a new relationship with a man they would often see my bisexuality as a threat or a novelty. When dating a gay woman, I would be seen as a fraud.

The final experience of bi-phobia has been my ongoing inability to keep some female friends. I have personally found that some straight women find female bisexuals threatening, and that has been one of the most upsetting things for me.

However, once I was comfortable with my own identity I found that, by and large, others were too. Over the past twenty years positivity and acceptance have overshadowed any negativity. Talking with friends about sexuality, their honesty and humour has been refreshing and has helped me to evolve from a bisexual woman into just a woman…who happens to be bisexual.

But the most significant experience I’ve had has been positive and non-judgmental acceptance from my beautiful children, friends, family and work colleagues. This has given me the strength to be happy and comfortable with who I am.

So happy Bi Visibility Day, let’s continue to question stereotypes and help create an environment where we have the opportunity to flourish and evolve into the people we truly are.

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Wales needs a step-change in emotional and mental health support for Children and Young People.

An interview with Lynne Neagle, Chair of the Assembly’s Children, Young People and Education Committee.

The Committee is launching its report on the step-change needed in emotional and mental health support for children and young people in Wales. Why did the Committee choose to look at this issue at this time?

We know that mental health is a huge issue for young people, that 1 in 10 young people will have mental health problems and that most of those mental health problems start at a relatively young age in their teenage years.

It’s the biggest area of concern raised with the Children’s Commissioner, it’s also a big area of concern that’s raised with services like the ChildLine helpline and it was also an issue that featured very strongly when we asked stakeholders to share their priorities with us.

What were the Committee’s main aims for the inquiry?

They were twofold: We wanted to revisit the work of our predecessor committee which did a major piece of work on Specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services back in 2014.

That led to the Welsh Government investing a significant amount of extra money in these specialist services, so we wanted to see whether progress had been made.

We also then wanted to look specifically at what work is being done around the need to build emotional resilience in our young people with a particular focus on early intervention and prevention – a lot of our inquiry has looked at whether that work is underway and how effective it has been.

What are the Committee’s main findings from this report?

It’s a big report with some 27 recommendations, but we’ve made one key recommendation that we think is the most important – that much more needs to be done in terms of early intervention and building our children and young people’s emotional resilience.

We believe that schools and education are absolutely key to that.

Due to the reform of the new curriculum we’ve got a once in a generation opportunity to actually embed learning about emotional resilience into our schools. But it’s not just about the curriculum – it’s also about making sure that everyone who comes into contact with young people understands the importance of emotional resilience and feels comfortable and able to talk to young people about it.

We think it’s crucial that health services work closely with schools to help support this step-change – teachers cannot be expected to shoulder this on their own,

Were any of the findings a surprise?

Personally, I expected the need for early intervention to be a key theme but what was notable was how strongly that came across, and from how many different stakeholders.

These varied from third sector organisations like the Samaritans to the police who, during the course of the inquiry, called for the curriculum to include mental health.

I think that has been the standout issue and unless we get that aspect right, a lot of the other pieces aren’t going to work.


Children and adolescent mental health services

Tackling emotional and mental health issues among children
and young people must now be a national priority.

Read more >


In 2014, a predecessor Committee was told that too many children and young people were being incorrectly referred to specialist mental health services and that they needed to be helped in other parts of the system. 4 years on has that situation changed?

There have been some improvements but I think it is still the case that too many young people are being referred inappropriately.

That is a symptom of the fact that we haven’t got early intervention services right.

If the earlier services aren’t there then people will still fight for a referral to specialist CAMHS (children and adolescent mental health services). So although there’s been progress I don’t think that progress has been strong enough.

Whilst the education system is key to making improvements in this area, we are also very concerned about primary mental health care – we came to the conclusion that the improvements in that area that we should have seen by now have simply not emerged.

We don’t think this is acceptable.

In terms of the Welsh Government, in 2015 they established the ‘Together for Children and Young People Programme’ to improve emotional and mental health services for children and young people in Wales. Is the Committee confident that the Welsh Government is doing everything it can in this area?

Obviously the programme is very welcome. It’s introduced a focus on specialist CAMHS and extra resources, which are very welcome.

But I don’t think the focus on early intervention and universal resilience has been sufficient at all. It was meant to be a clear workstream within the programme and I don’t think we’ve seen the progress that we should have seen in that area.

The other area where I would have liked to have seen more progress is primary mental health care services for children and young people.

We were told that it’s going to be a focus for the programme in the next few months – my question then would be, why hasn’t it been in there as a key feature for the last three years?

What is the Committee hoping to see following the publication of this report?

We’ve made one key recommendation and 27 other detailed recommendations. Given the evidence that underpins them, we expect the Government to give them very serious consideration and we’re obviously hoping that it will accept all of them.

As important as the early intervention work is, it is also vital that young people who need a specialist service get that specialist service in a timely way.

As such, our intention is to follow up on every one of those recommendations very vigorously.

We are going to be returning to this issue on an ongoing basis and continuing to scrutinise the Welsh Government‘s progress in this area because it’s something that we absolutely have to get right. The report says we’ve got to see a step change.

I don’t want to be sitting in committees five years from now hearing yet again that mental health services for children and young people aren’t good enough – we have got to get this right this time.

Get the report

Read the full report and find out more about the work of the Children, Young People and Education Committee via the National Assembly for Wales’ website. You can also follow the committee on Twitter @SeneddCYPE.


If you want to talk to someone about your emotional well-being and mental health, you can contact:
Meic Cymru on 080880 23456 or text on 84001 or through their online messaging service

Or C.A.L.L Helpline on 0800 132 737 or text ‘help’ to 81066

‘Failure as a nation’ to celebrate the contribution of our women – Y Llywydd, Elin Jones AM

This post was originally published on BBC Cymru Fyw on 6 February 2018. View the original post here

I have mixed feelings today.

Mixed in the sense that I still cannot believe that it’s only a century since women had any voice in our democratic process – and even then, we shouldn’t forget that it was only a few women who won the vote in 1918.

It also continues to amaze me that so many women continue to have to protest and fight for equality in politics across the world today.


There have been positive developments of course, and many here in Wales. The principle of ensuring equal opportunities was at the heart of the founding principles of the National Assembly in 1999 and incorporated into the laws and rules of our new democracy.

In 2003, our Assembly was the first legislature in the world to elect the same number of women and men, and although the number of elected women has decreased somewhat since then, the Assembly has consistently included a higher proportion of female members than the House of Commons, the Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly over the years.

I’m pretty certain that the first woman parliamentary candidate in Wales, Millicent Mackenzie, would be very proud of us.

Millicent established the Suffragettes Branch in Cardiff, and was a candidate for the University of Wales parliamentary seat in 1918.

Much to my embarrassment I only learned about her life recently, which may in some ways reflect our failure as a nation to celebrate the contribution of our women throughout the ages.

Even now, in the era of devolution, are we sure that the contribution of women to the governance of our nation is recorded appropriately?
Yes, we have reasons to celebrate and we must do that more often.

So why do I feel so downbeat about some elements of our political culture today, how it has evolved and the effect that it has on women who work in politics in 2018?

There has certainly been a change in the international political climate, and increasingly, a public narrative is being pushed by some with the specific intention of undermining efforts for equality. I can not, and we should not, forget what happened to Labor MP, Jo Cox, who was murdered in 2016, nor should we ignore the threats of violence against other female politicians – here in Wales and elsewhere.

It is a job which is far from being done, as demonstrated by the other big issue that has dominated our public discourse recently – the cases of harassment, bullying and inappropriate behavior.

Significant work is underway in the National Assembly and in Westminster to ensure that there are appropriate procedures and policies in place to deal with such complaints. Our aim will be to seek and promote respect and dignity in our parliaments, but it is deeply disappointing and frustrating that we have to continue to fight the fight for women today in the twenty first century.

We need to call time on inequality and intimidation.

Enough is enough was the message of the “me too” campaign – a powerful statement of mutual support and resistance from women. The spirit of that campaign and the enthusiasm for securing an equal place for women in our parliament was present in the Senedd some weeks ago during a debate on equality in Welsh politics.

This was an opportunity for both female and male Members to raise their heads and raise awareness of the importance of women’s voice in our national politics.

And that’s what I want to celebrate today – the women who acted positively to counter injustice and prejudice.

In doing so, I want to take the opportunity to thank women of all parties and no party – those who were elected and the candidates who did not succeed – for putting their names on the ballot papers, running for public office and for making a difference in the face of many obstacles.

We need more women on our local and national public platforms, following the example Millicent Mackenzie set a century ago, and realising her aspiration of challenging prejudice with courage to change our political culture and ensure real equality for future generations.

Elin Jones AM, Llywydd of the National Assembly for Wales.