Tag: Swansea

Assembly shines at Sparkle

By Kelly Harris, Youth Engagement Officer

On Saturday 7 November, myself and Craig Stephenson, Assembly Director and Chair of our LGBT staff network, took a stall to Swansea Sparkle to talk to the public about the work of the Assembly and how they could become involved.

Swansea Sparkle was organised by Tawe Butterflies and South Wales Police, which provided an opportunity for people to come together and celebrate equality and diversity. The aim was to break down barriers between the public and the Transgender community by bringing organisations from across Wales and the U.K. together to showcase the support, information and advice available to the community.

It was a really interesting day and we had lots of interest about the Assembly. Many people were unaware that they had five Assembly Members whose job it is to represent them in the Assembly, so it was the perfect opportunity to provide them with our Explore the Assembly: Your Assembly Member Guide and chat with them about what issues they might face in their communities. Two Assembly Members came to the stall to say hello and have their picture taken with us – Julie James (Swansea West Constituency) and Peter Black (South West Wales Regional) – it was great to have their support at the event.

Sparkle 2015 Assembly staff with Assembly Member Julie James
Sparkle 2015 Assembly staff with Assembly Member Julie James
Sparkle 2015 Assembly staff with Assembly Member Peter Black
Sparkle 2015 Assembly staff with Assembly Member Peter Black

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to talk to a young person who is currently transitioning. I felt very honoured that they shared their story with me, and it was interesting to hear their experiences – both the happy and the sad parts. There have been big steps taken to make sure that the voices of the Transgender community are heard, but it is very clear that there is still a lot of work to be done. I took the time to make sure that the young person knew of all the different ways they could become involved in the work of the Assembly, even down to how hard the Assembly works to make sure our workforce is diverse and fully representative of Welsh communities. It was great to get their feedback on what else they thought the Assembly could work on, which will be fed back to our excellent Equality Team.

I also explained about who the Children’s Commissioner for Wales is and what their job is, so that if they felt they needed someone to help them in the future, they have someone else they can contact. It is important for all young people in Wales to know about the Children’s Commissioner.

Overall it was an excellent day – well organised and very welcoming! I can’t wait to go back next year!

Attendees at the Sparkle event with Stonewall's No Bystanders anti-bullying pledge
Attendees at the Sparkle event with Stonewall’s No Bystanders anti-bullying pledge

#SeneddSwansea: Law in Wales

Jane Williams, Associate Professor at Swansea University’s College of Law, attended our lunchtime seminar during #SeneddSwansea last week. Here’s what she thought about the event…

Fascinating seminar at Swansea University’s College of Law and Criminology, with the National Assembly for Wales’ Deputy Presiding Officer, David Melding AM and Director of Legal Services, Elisabeth Jones, during #SeneddSwansea.

Students and researchers in law and politics, legal practitioners and other guests joined in discussions chaired by the College’s Jane Williams and Keith Bush Q.C. Ranging over really important and challenging issues, discussions spanned the legal, constitutional, political and civic  aspects of devolution: access to justice, accessibility of Welsh law, characteristics of law-making for Wales, political participation, civic education, voting and the electoral system, access to information, a separate jurisdiction and ‘what makes good law’.

Reflections on the past and informed imagining of the future – excellent discussion on all this, and lunch, in just two hours! Thanks to our esteemed guests and all who helped make it happen and who joined us today. Determined to do this sort of thing more often!

Deputy Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales, David Melding AM, and Elisabeth Jones, Director of legal services, present a seminar on matters relevant to those thinking of practicing law in Wales and broader constitutional and policy themes.

#AskFirstMin – The Committee for the Scrutiny of the First Minister wants to hear from you

#AskFirstMin – Have your question answered by the First Minister, Carwyn Jones

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The Committee wants to hear from organisations, businesses and from you – more details on how to take part online below.

The Committee for the Scrutiny of the First Minister is meeting in Swansea on October 16 at 10.30 at the National Waterfront Museum. The main topic will be ‘Wales in the Wider World’. Here’s a flavour of the main drivers for discussion:

What is the Welsh Government’s overall strategy for marketing and promoting Wales to the world? What is the Welsh brand? How well are Welsh attractions promoted to tourists? Does the Welsh Government do enough to draw in investors?
Does the Welsh Government do a good job of making Wales seem appealing to tourists from the UK and abroad?  Is Welsh culture visible enough outside of Wales? What markets or products should be prioritised?

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A full agenda will be posted on the Committee’s web page when confirmed. 

The majority of Committees meet weekly to scrutinise the Welsh Government in detail but The Committee for the Scrutiny of the First Minister focuses on broad topics relating to any central strategic vision of the Welsh Government’s programme.

How do I take part online?

You can submit your question, observation or comment to the Committee on the topic of ‘Wales in the Wider World’ any way you like:

Twitter On Twitter – Follow @AssemblyWales on Twitter and reply to any tweets relating to this topic or use the hashtag #AskFirstMin. Also feel free to Direct Message us if you’d like it to be confidential.
 Facebook On Facebook – Like the Assembly’s Facebook Page and leave a comment on a relevant status. If you can’t see a relevant status then leave a comment on the page with the hashtag #AskFirstMin.
 Email E-Mail – You can send your views by e-mail to: FM.Scrutiny@Assembly.Wales
 Youtube On YouTube – Why not film yourself asking your question and then send us the link through any of the channels above?
 Instagram On Instagram – If you can express your views in a creative visual way we’d love to see it. Tag our Senedd Instagram account within your picture or just use the hashtag #AskFirstMin. Alternatively you can leave a comment on any one of our Instagram posts again with the hashtag #AskFirstMin.
 Wordpress Comments – Leave a comment on this blog post right now!

What happens next?

We will collate the responses and hand them over to the Committee’s Chair – David Melding AM. The Chair will then incorporate them into the line of questioning for the First Minister, Carwyn Jones. You can come and watch the meeting in person, online on Senedd.TV or read the transcript. We’ll let you know if your question was answered. The meeting will take place on 16 October, 10.30 in Swansea at the National Waterfront Museum.

We look forward to hearing your views!

 “You can see the extraordinary beauty, the wonderful people and great hospitality, so I’d encourage everybody in the States to come and visit Wales.”
– President Barack Obama

Explore the topic – ‘Wales in the Wider World’

This may seem like a complex topic but sometimes it’s good to take a step back and look at the big picture. We want to hear out of the box ideas, comments from different perspectives and from different walks of life. Continue reading “#AskFirstMin – The Committee for the Scrutiny of the First Minister wants to hear from you”

Sharing good practice in scrutiny (2)

Outreach Manager Kevin Davies explains…

Welcome back! My first blog entry set the scene and explained how and why Swansea Council’s Scrutiny Committee came to visit the National Assembly for Wales to discuss ideas around public engagement in scrutiny.

In it I explained that wanted to explore ways of encouraging more people to take part in committee work, be it to help the Assembly scrutinise the work of the Welsh Government, or to help local council scrutinise the work of council leaders. We share the same challenge…sometimes we don’t hear from the variety of people would like to.
To read my first blog entry click here.

In this blog entry I’ll explain how we at the Assembly try to overcome this issue, and reference examples and case studies.

Consultation toolkit

I was really impressed by Swansea Council’s openness to ideas, and their desire to engage the public in the work they do. I appreciated some of the concerns that they had (that I’m sure every other public sector organisation shares) around having the time, effort and resource to do it properly. As a public sector organisation, this is something we at the Assembly also have to consider, and it shapes the types of activity we can offer and deliver.

A few years ago we produced our consultation toolkit (PDF 5.82MB). The toolkit is a list of engagement methods which have been used by the National Assembly and have been evaluated after use, with strengths, weaknesses suggestions of lead in times, costs and other considerations. It lists the different things the Assembly’s Outreach team can deliver when helping committees find more people to take part in a consultation. The toolkit includes a lot of different options, ways of gathering people’s opinions (evidence) including things like focus groups, events, filming video interviews, web-chats and surveys.

Finding people from different backgrounds, and hearing their perspectives helps Assembly Members understand the issues and the impact they have on people’s lives. Better informed Assembly Members (or councillors for that matter) leads to better scrutiny and better policies, so the value of engaging a broader group of people in this process shouldn’t be undervalued.

This video shows Rhun ap Iorwerth AM and Julie James AM talking about taking part in a web-chat with students on the subject of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Skills in Wales as part of committee scrutiny:

This video shows people who took part in video interviews for the Enterprise and Business Committee’s inquiry into youth entrepreneurship:

You might think that doing these things cost a lot of money. Using Google Hangouts to run web-chats is totally free. If you want to film video interviews with people in your area, an iPad will set you back about £200, which you can use to film people in high definition, and you can use an app called iMovie to edit the footage. A survey can be designed, published and promoted for little cost, using Facebook, Twitter and other channels. We have recently been promoting an inquiry into Supply Teaching in Wales through paid promoted Facebook posts which cost us £50 over the course of two weeks. This post (to date) has been shared 117 times and 39 comments made on the post.

Finding participants

Consider is who you see/work with on a day to day basis through the activities/services your organisations provide day to day. At the National Assembly we have communications staff which sees people coming into the Senedd, going into schools, colleges and youth clubs, and community groups across Wales to explain what the Assembly does and how they can get involved. We have used these interactions, things we do on a day-to-day basis, to explain issues  being discussed at the National Assembly at the moment, and provide people with direct opportunities to have their say on these topics.

When we find people to take part in engagement activity for committee consultations, we regularly contact charities, voluntary organisations, representative bodies and community groups. Local councils deliver a wide variety of services to different groups of people so engaging with these existing groups could be a very quick and easy way for councils to broaden the range of people who could contribute to their scrutiny work. Something we tried for the Human Transplantation Bill inquiry was leaving leaflets at GP surgeries, targeting people with specific needs in a specific area.

Feedback

One of the areas that the crew from Swansea Council were really interested in was how we feedback to people who have contributed throughout the process. We showed some examples of how we’ve done this, such as this  .

Committing to feeding back to participants is really important, or you could undo all the good work done during engagement activity by leaving people without updates on what their involvement lead to. At the Assembly we are currently looking at how we communicate with the public, particularly how we communicate the work of committees. As part of this process we will be considering how we keep people informed about the process of an inquiry they have taken part in, and what platforms (be it by using video, Storify or simply an e-mail) we should use when doing this. Piecing together the customer journey seems to be an area both Swansea Council and the National Assembly are looking at at the moment, and hopefully we can work together in doing this. Watch this space.

That seems like a good place to bring this blog entry to a close. The next entry will look at the planning process, and how this work happens behind the scenes at the Assembly to make all of these engagement opportunities possible.

Sharing good practice in scrutiny (1)

Outreach Manager Kevin Davies explains…

On 12 February 2015 staff and councillors from Swansea Council’s Scrutiny Committee came to the Assembly to discuss how we at the National Assembly for Wales encourage more people to get involved in scrutiny.

I’ve just finished writing the first draft of this blog, which I wanted to keep as short and as concise as possible. I’ve failed miserably, so  I’ve decided to publish it as a 3 part series instead. In part one (this one) I’ll set the scene, talk about some of the challenges, and show you what we talked about with the crew from Swansea Council.

Setting the scene

The remit  of the National Assembly’s committees are very similar to those of local council’s scrutiny committees, to:

  •  look at different issues and subjects that the Welsh Government is responsible for, and at the end of the process …  make recommendations to the Welsh Government to put into action.

Here’s footage of one of the Health and Social Care Committee’s meetings for their inquiry looking at how the Welsh Government has implemented its Cancer Delivery Plan:

http://www.senedd.tv/Meeting/Index/e5ceef9b-454b-41f0-b2c8-2838228ec357

This process can be a lengthy one. National Assembly committees scrutinising (looking at, analysing, and suggesting improvements to ideas) laws the Welsh Government has put forward can take a number of months from start to finish.

Scrutiny for the National Assembly means:

  • making sure the Welsh Government is spending money in an effective way;
  • making sure the laws the Welsh Government want to introduce are good ones, and;
  • reviewing the Welsh Government’s policies.

The National Assembly wants to make sure the Welsh Government is doing its job properly, acting like a watchdog. This is exactly what council scrutiny committees do, but rather than looking at things on a Wales-wide basis as our committees do, your local council’s scrutiny committees look at the decisions made, and the money spent by council leaders in your local area.

This is a video of Eluned Parrott AM explaining the work of the National Assembly’s Enterprise and Business Committee:

Challenges

If you’re a council or a National Assembly scrutiny committee, you rely on the information you receive during the consultation period, which can come from individuals, groups and/or organisations, but sometimes we don’t hear from the variety of people we would like to. This could be because the information we put out is technical and people don’t understand the jargon used, because they don’t access information through  the National Assembly or council websites, twitter accounts, Facebook page, newsletters or any other means by which we try to communicate with our audiences. They don’t know that they have  opportunities to take part, or they don’t feel comfortable in taking part by writing to a committee.

Way back in 2013, the Wales Audit Office held their Scrutiny in the Spotlight event at the SWALEC stadium in Cardiff, September 2014 saw the first GovCamp Cymru event, and in November last year Dave McKenna (Swansea Council’s Scrutiny Manager) held a Twitter chat using  #scrusm. Both our  committees and Swansea Council’s Scrutiny Committee face the challenge of encouraging more people to take part in scrutiny activities, so Dave, Dyfrig (Wales Audit Office’ Good Practice Exchange) and I, having taken part in  the sessions mentioned above, decided to arrange a get together to talk about how we can try and tackle the issue.

Dave and I set an agenda which was split into two parts. The first was to discuss public engagement in scrutiny and more specifically:

  • how the National Assembly does it;
  • how the National Assembly plans it; and
  • what effect does it have?

The second part was based around talking about how we use online tools, apps, and other channels to communicate with the public.

Peter Black AM and Mike Hedges AM, both local Swansea Assembly Members, came along during the day to talk about their experiences in taking part in engagement activities for committee inquiries, how it influenced the scrutiny process and the recommendations committees make to Welsh Government ministers.

In the next blog entries I’ll talk in detail about the things we spoke about, and some of the examples cited during the day.

#Youthjobs

Transport, lack of skills to enter the workforce, issues with work experience, careers advice, and lack of signposting towards things like apprenticeships are just some of the things young people said when discussing the barriers that exist when they are looking for work.

The National Assembly for Wales checks how the Welsh Government spends money, and what effect their policies are having on the people of Wales. One of the National Assembly’s committees, the Enterprise and Business Committee has looked into the challenges that young people face when they are trying to find a job.

Young people for all over Wales took part in video interviews with the National Assembly’s Outreach team, which were shown to the Assembly Members on the Committee.

The Committee also held an event in Swansea where they spoke with front line staff who work with and support young people on a daily basis, told the Committee what they felt the issues were and how they could be addressed.

Here are some pictures from the event:

 Two participants in discussion at the event in Swansea.  Three participants in discussion at the event in Swansea.

Four participants in discussion around a table at the workshop in Swansea.

For more images see our Flickr album.

After the event the Committee spoke with people at official meetings at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay.

The Committee have produced a report which they have sent to the Welsh Government. The report includes recommendations on things the Committee thinks the Welsh Government should do to make it easier for young people find work.

This video shows what young people told us, and the recommendations the Committee has made to the Welsh Government:

You can also read a summary of the report here (pdf, 184KB)

The Welsh Government will need to respond to the Committee’s recommendations, and the Committee will be keeping an eye on what progress they are making in delivering some of the changes suggested in the report.

How to get involved and keep up-to date with the Committee’s work

Understanding and Engaging with the Assembly

Last month the National Assembly for Wales’s Outreach Team visited ten groups across Wales to provide Understanding and Engaging workshops and hosted three events in support of Assembly Business.

This month we met with 566 people to discuss the role of the Assembly and inform them of:

  • Who their representatives are
  • How decisions made at the Assembly affect the people of Wales
  • How the Assembly hold the Welsh Government to account
  • How they can get involved in decisions made by the Assembly

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The Benllech 50+ Group were a particularly lively bunch. While discussing the legislative process of the National Assembly for Wales we opened up the discussion and asked the group what changes they’d like to see. Chief among their priorities was a focus on tourism and transport, issues they said are very important to them in Anglesey.

Chair of the Group, Mrs Dilys Standish said after the session:

“We’ve just had a presentation from the Outreach Team [who are based] at Colwyn Bay. It was very interesting to know how the Welsh Assembly works and all the different ways we can, as a community, get involved with the Assembly.

A wonderful afternoon has been had by all and it was very informative.”

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A group from Women Making a Difference also came to us at the Senedd for a presentation this month. We had a very interactive session discussing how the group would prioritise spending if they were given control of the budget. This group were also very surprised to learn about the Assembly’s petitioning system and how simple the process was to understand.

Other groups we’ve visited groups this month range from Chwarae Teg in Cardiff to YMCA in Swansea and up to the West Flintshire Communities First cluster.

If your group would be interested in receiving an Understanding and Engaging workshop, or are simply interested in our work, please contact us via OutreachTeam@assembly.wales or phone us on 0300 200 6574.

This month we’ve also been busy supporting Assembly business by hosting the Communities, Equality and Local Government Committee’s poverty roundtable event at the Norwegian Church in Cardiff and their site visits to projects and organisations all across Wales, and the Enterprise and Business Committee’s Tourism report launch in Aberglasney and their Assisting Younger People into work roundtable in Swansea. You can view the pictures from these events on the Assembly’s Flickr page.

Remember to keep up with our activities by following us on Twitter @SeneddOutreach or keep an eye on the ‘Assembly in your area’ section on the Assembly website.