Tag: Young People

Senedd Summer Fun

Gareth Coombes, Tour Manager, talks about the joys and challenges of organising a Family Fun Weekend at the Senedd, home of the National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff Bay.

When you think about the Senedd, the first thing that comes to mind is Plenary, the meeting where the 60 Assembly Members make Welsh laws, debate Welsh issues, question the First Minister and the make sure the Welsh Government is doing its job. The second thing you think about is usually the handsome tour guide who works there, but maybe you wouldn’t imagine that the Senedd could be also be turned into a giant play area for children and young people.

Capture

 

Well that’s exactly what happened last weekend! To celebrate the Cardiff Bay Harbour Festival and as a continuation of the Senedd’s 10th birthday celebrations this year, we hosted a Fun Weekend for all the family. Activities included soft play, Lego station, skittles, face painting and a craft area.

The day before I was really nervous, thinking that no one was going to turn up and it would just be me playing Lego all day by myself! I kept busy by setting up all the activities, making sure all the toys were in the right place, the face painters had a table and that the Welsh cakes were tasty enough (I took this job very seriously and tasted many, many Welsh cakes just to make sure) and that everything else was just right. The night before, when nearly everyone had left, I just walked around what we had created in the building, feeling excited about the days to come.

The weekend started quietly, with the weather being its usual miserable self. But as soon as the sun came out, I knew the Bay would get busier, which of course it did!

 

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One of the most popular activities over the weekend (and for good reason) was the ball pit in the middle of the room. Our job was to make sure that all the balls were kept in and around the ball pit, not an easy job I’ll add! On the last day I was tidying up the ball pit, putting two or three balls back at a time, when out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a young boy running as fast as he could towards the soft play from the other end of the room. At this point everything went into slow motion. The boy was nearing, there was nothing I could do, and before I could react, he jumped, as high as he could, and landed like an Olympic long-jumper in the middle of the ball pit. Again in slow motion I saw about 50 balls catapult out of the pit into every conceivable direction on the Welsh slate floor, and knowing I had lost the battle, I put my head down, rested on the soft play and laughed!

IMG_3520#SeneddSelfie was used on Twitter and Instagram throughout the weekend so that our guests could share their experiences with us. Some great pictures were taken, and it was so nice to see lots of smiles in them. Many people clambered into the giant deck chair outside the Senedd, and there were some fantastic photos of children with their faces painted, with lions and butterflies galore!

Overall the weekend was a huge success with over 3,500 people visiting the building! From what I could tell, everyone thoroughly enjoyed as much as I did.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who came along – see you again next year!

 

 


 

The Senedd is the home of National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff Bay. Open to the public seven days a week, its distinctive design and incredible architecture attract visitors from all over the world, and in 2015 the building was awarded a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence.

Free tours are available daily, and a selection of drinks and refreshments are available to purchase from the Oriel Café.

You could also find out who your Assembly Members are and how they represent your interests in the Senedd. If you visit during the week you could even watch the political action unfold as it happens in the public gallery of the Siambr, the Senedd’s debating chamber.

If you’d like to book a tour (unfortunately we can’t promise that it will be with Gareth) please call us on 0300 200 6565, email contact@assembly.wales or pop into the Senedd for more details.

The Senedd is open:

Weekdays – term time
Monday and Friday 9:30 – 16:30, Tuesday to Thursday 8:00 – end of business

Weekdays – recess
Monday to Friday 9:30 – 16:30

Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays (all year) 10:30 – 16:30

 (Please note that last admission is 30 minutes before closing).

Further information for visitors, including information for those with an Autistic Spectrum Condition can be found on our website.

National Assembly for Wales Trip Advisor webpage

Senedd Facebook page

View this post in Welsh

“Listening to the interpreters showcase their talent was amazing. What a skill!”

Ffion at a translators desk

Ffion Pritchard joined the Assembly’s Translation and Reporting Service for the day last week after winning the Urdd translation competition. Here she talks about her experience behind the scenes and how the Assembly champions bilingualism.

I travelled by train to Cardiff Bay on Tuesday 12 July, a fine summer’s day, to spend the day on work experience with the Assembly’s Translation Unit—my reward for winning the Urdd translation competition.

A busy day had been planned for me. As part of the day, I met Mair, the head of the translation unit, and Mari Lisa, the competition adjudicator, and learnt about the business unit, transcribing the Record of Proceedings, translating legislation and the art of simultaneous interpretation. Thank you to Geth, Jodi, Llinos and Cai for all their help. I’m sure that the information they provided will be a great help to me in the future.

As well as meeting with, and working alongside, the translators and editors in the Translation Unit, I also attended meetings with two important people in the Senedd. In the morning, I had the opportunity to meet and have my photograph taken with the Presiding Officer; in the afternoon, Alun Davies, Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language, gave up his time to shake my hand and have a chat. Given that they are very busy people, I really appreciated this opportunity!

Ffion and the Presiding Officer, Elin Jones AM

Gruff’s introduction to machine translation was greatly beneficial. It is good to see major companies such as Microsoft investing in technology that benefits the Welsh translation industry. Used properly, this technology increases translators’ productivity and gives non-Welsh speakers the opportunity to understand the language. Of course, machine translation will never be an improvement on real-life translators, but it is good to know that there are resources available to support our work.

Ffion and Gruff

As someone who takes an interest in politics as well as translating, it was great to see First Minister’s Questions in the Chamber. It was nice to feel part of the political process and hear the Welsh language being spoken by Ministers. Listening to the interpreters showcase their talent was amazing. What a skill!

I would like to thank the Urdd, Cymdeithas Cyfieithwyr Cymru (the association of Welsh translators and interpreters) and the Assembly for arranging the day. A heartfelt thanks goes to Iona and Sarah for being such wonderful guides! I would urge those of you who are between 19 and 25 years old and who have an interest in translation to enter the Urdd competition next year. If you are successful, I promise that spending the day with the Assembly’s translation unit will be an invaluable experience!

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

Chair’s Blog: Renting Homes (Wales) Bill

Some keys

Communities, Equality and Local Government Committee: Stage 1 Committee Report

On 26 June 2015, we published our Stage 1 Report on the Renting Homes (Wales) Bill (PDF 1.39MB). It contains 37 recommendations to the Minister that we believe are needed to strengthen the Bill.

Generally, the evidence we heard showed that there was support for the overall aims of the Bill, particularly in terms of simplifying the existing law about renting. But, we did hear specific concerns about a number of areas in the Bill, and our recommendations to the Minister reflect these.

Amongst other things, our recommendations relate to:

  • the condition of rental properties – i.e. the requirement on a landlord to ensure that the property they are offering for rent is ‘fit for human habitation’ and in a good state of repair;
  • the proposals for 16 or 17 year olds to be able to hold an ‘occupation contract’ (the new term for a tenancy);
  • the proposals allowing landlords to exclude someone with a supported standard contract from their home for up to 48 hours without a court order.

Full details about all our recommendations, including the ones I have referred to above, can be found in our report.

The next step in the Bill’s progress is the Stage 1 debate. This is due to take place on 7 July in the Assembly’s debating chamber, and will involve Members discussing and agreeing whether the Bill proceeds to the next stage of the legislative process.

Keep an eye on #RentingHomesBill for more updates.

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

View a short video of the Chair discussing the Committee’s report:

How well is the Welsh Government doing its job?

This is a question Assembly Members at the National Assembly ask every day, in committee meetings, or in Plenary meetings, in the main debating chamber of the Senedd, in Cardiff Bay.

If the Welsh Government’s job is to “help improve the lives of people in Wales and make our nation a better place in which to live and work”, then it’s important that the Assembly hears from the wide range of people affected by the decisions that the Welsh Government makes. The National Assembly for Wales is the body tasked with analysing how well the Welsh Government is doing so, after all.

How the Assembly does this has changed significantly over the last few years, particularly when it comes to the work of Assembly committees. People still reply to invitations to write to the Assembly to give evidence. Individuals, organisations and charities still visit the Senedd to be quizzed by AMs in formal meetings, though different approaches are needed to hear from different audiences.

These are pictures of Julie Morgan AM and Jocelyn Davies AM taking part in a web-chat with students on Google Hangouts for the Finance Committee’s inquiry into Higher Education Funding: 

Julie Morgan AM and Jocelyn Davies AM taking part in a web-chat with students on Google Hangout for the Finance Committee’s inquiry into Higher Education Funding Julie Morgan AM and Jocelyn Davies AM taking part in a web-chat with students on Google Hangout for the Finance Committee’s inquiry into Higher Education Funding Screen shot of a web-chat with students on Google Hangout for the Finance Committee’s inquiry into Higher Education Funding

People everywhere lead increasingly busy lives, so making participation in the Assembly’s work as easy and accessible as possible is vital for engaging with the wide variety of people that make up the population of Wales. Increasingly at the Assembly, committees have been using digital channels to encourage people to share their views with us.

We’ve used Google Hangouts to speak with students about STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Skills and Higher Education Funding, filmed members of the public on an iPad and shown it as evidence at formal committee meetings, and used Twitter to source questions to ask the leader of the Welsh Government, First Minister Carwyn Jones AM.

The following video is a video of Rhun ap Iorwerth AM and Julie James AM being interviewed after taking part in their first web-chat on Google Hangout for the STEM Skills inquiry:

In the last few months we used Loomio for the first time, as part of the Health and Social Care Committee’s inquiry looking into alcohol and substance misuse in Wales. Loomio is a web-application to assist groups with collaborative decision-making processes.

A key part of the inquiry was talking directly with the people affected by these issues, but some people find attending official committee meetings intimidating. Also not all those affected have the capacity to put their thoughts and feelings to the Committee in writing. Loomio allowed the Committee to talk to people, without everyone needing to be in the same room.

Service providers and clients used the online forum to tell us what issues they had experienced, and what they wanted the Welsh Government to should do about it. This is a screenshot showing some of the contributions we had to the discussion:

loomio screenshot

Loomio discussion screen shot

At the end of the evidence-gathering process, once a Committee has considered everything that people have told them, they will usually write to the Welsh Government. This is to explain what steps the Committee would like to see the Welsh Government take to improve people’s lives in Wales, based on the evidence the Committee have heard.

This tends to be in official reports, which can be quite lengthy, but we are looking at different ways of presenting committee reports to make them shorter and easier to understand, at-a-glance.

One of the summary versions is this video, made for people who were filmed for an inquiry looking at youth entrepreneurship:

More recently we have used Adobe Slate to summarise a report on Poverty in Wales: https://slate.adobe.com/a/EN6np

Using digital channels and platforms has allowed us to engage with people more effectively and easily than before.

It’s also meant that more people can help the Assembly scrutinise the Welsh Government’s performance, so the Assembly’s recommendations to the Welsh Government are based on the issues people experience in their everyday lives.

Equality and Diversity Week 2015

This week, we will be sharing a series of blog articles as part of our Equality and Diversity Week., an initiative that we undertake each year to promote a range of equality-related topics. In this first article we outline what it’s like to work at the Assembly.

We strive to be an inclusive employer that supports the needs of everyone that works here. We have a number of teams, policies and procedures in place to ensure that our staff are supported, can be themselves and fulfil their potential. We think a good way to tell you more about what we do, is to let some of our staff tell you themselves.

Being supported, being themselves and fulfilling their potential.

“It took me 3 years to come ‘out’ in my previous job; it took me less than 3 weeks to feel comfortable enough to do the same here. It was clear straight away that everyone accepts everyone else for who they are. I was able to be the new guy, not the new gay.”

“I do not feel disabled when I come to work, as I am treated with respect and my skills are appreciated.”

Our Domestic Abuse Policy

“I didn’t understand why domestic abuse was a workplace issue. Hearing from a survivor of domestic abuse was important as it brought our policy to life.”

Our Flexible working arrangements

“Since becoming a parent, several adjustments have been made to my work pattern in order to achieve a work-life balance that is appropriate for me, including a working week of 32 hours over four days, no late-night working, and term-time working. This work pattern means that I am available every evening and during all school holidays. All of these adjustments have proven to be extremely valuable.”

“I am very grateful for the opportunity to work flexibly. I live quite a distance from Cardiff and have condensed my hours to enable me to work in Cardiff for four long days a week. Also, because of the distance I can occasionally work from home.”

“I am a single parent with caring responsibilities and feel very fortunate to be able to work reduced hours. This enables me to have a healthy work life balance.”

Reasonable adjustments that have been made

“As a deaf member of staff I am well supported in my role. Colleagues in the office have adjusted their working practices and I have been provided with the necessary equipment to enable me to make the most of my skills. This has allowed me to make a full contribution to the team.”

“The continued support of the Health and Safety Team has made it easier for me to come to work”.

“I am now using the ergonomic chair, which I find is having an amazing impact on my back and spine…the whole of my back feels ‘stronger’ since using the chair”.

Our engagement with the Staff networks

“The willingness with which the Assembly engages with Embrace, our disability staff network, really makes me feel that it values my opinions and experiences as a disabled member of staff.  I am proud to be a member of the network and feel that I am helping to make a real difference to the organisation and its staff.”

Case Study – Stonewall Work Experience placement

“I had a fantastic week at the National Assembly. The atmosphere and ethos of the institution is a credit to each member of staff. I don’t think Stonewall Cymru could have found a better example of a workplace where people can be who they are, celebrate difference, and achieve brilliant results: the impression emanates from the moment you walk into Tŷ Hywel, where you see the Stonewall Cymru Diversity Champions certificate proudly hung on the wall.”

Christian Webb who came to the Assembly as part of Stonewall Cymru’s Work Placement Scheme. The scheme seeks to give young people the experience of working in LGBT friendly workplaces. Read his full blog here.

We are proud to have received the following benchmarks and accreditations that celebrate our inclusive workplace:

  • Ranked 4 in the UK in Stonewall’s Top Employers for LGB people and named Top Public Sector Employer in Wales for the second year running. In addition, our network group was highly commended;
  • Listed as a Working Families Top 30 Employer during 2014;
  • Listed in The Times Top 50 Employer for Women in 2014;
  • Retained our commitment to the Positive About Disabled People and Age Champion campaigns;
  • Retained Action on Hearing Loss Louder than Words charter mark;
  • Achieved the National Autism Society Access Award; and
  • We retained our Investors in People Gold Standard.

To find out more about working for the Assembly visit our webpage.

equality week

Chair’s blog: Inquiry into New Psychoactive Substances

DavidReesAM

I’m David Rees (@DavidReesAM), Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee.

In September 2014 the Committee started looking into the issue of new psychoactive substances (“NPS”). We have now finished our inquiry and have written a report (PDF, 1MB) making 14 recommendations to the Welsh Government. A shorter summary (PDF, 252KB) is also available.

What are New Psychoactive Substances (NPS)?

NPS are commonly marketed as safer and legal alternatives to illegal drugs, often made in laboratories and sold via the internet or in so-called “head shops” that exist on the high street. They are often referred to as “legal highs”. This marketing is misleading – their side effects can be as serious as those caused by illegal drugs, and they can be as addictive too. Often, they also contain traces of substances that are against the law to sell and take.

Why did we hold this inquiry?

We decided to look into this issue because the use of NPS has grown in Wales, and elsewhere, in recent years. In 2013, 60 deaths in England and Wales involved NPS, 15 per cent higher than the previous year. Members were concerned about the health and social harms caused by NPS, and wanted to shine a light on the steps that need to be taken to allow people to make more informed decisions about their use of NPS.

How did we gather people’s views for this inquiry?

We used a number of different ways to ask people what they think about NPS, including:

  • asking the public to fill in a survey, which 1072 people responded to from across Wales;
  • inviting representatives from key organisations to speak with Members in official meetings at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay;
  • holding focus groups in Merthyr Tydfil and Wrexham to hear directly from frontline staff, and Committee members visited the LOTS project, Forsythia Youth Club, DrugAid and the headquarters of DAN 24/7, Wales’ national substance misuse helpline.

We wrote a blogpost about these visits and have also have published pictures from Wrexham and Merthyr alongside some short videos so you can see what the Committee has been doing:

Health and Social Care Committee focus group on NPSHealth and Social Care Committee focus group

The Committee also used  storify to keep people updated on the inquiry’s progress.

What did people tell the Committee and what have we done about it?

What the Committee was told

  • More needs to be done to increase public awareness of the harms caused by using NPS;
  • the term “legal highs” is really unhelpful. It suggests that using these substances is a safe and legal thing to do. In reality, they are often really harmful and contain illegal substances;
  • the UK Government, which is responsible for drugs policy, should ban the supply of NPS, making “head shops” and market stalls that sell NPS illegal;
  • those using NPS should not be given a criminal record – that could make things even worse for users who are trying to get their lives back on track;
  • not enough is known about how many people are taking NPS and what harms they can cause.

What we said in our report

  • The current drugs education programme in schools should be reviewed urgently to make it better and more consistent across Wales, and to make sure it is delivered by people who are suitably trained and qualified;
  • a national training programme on NPS should be developed for all staff providing public services (e.g. doctors, nurses, police, social workers, prison officers etc);
  • the Welsh Government’s 2015 public awareness campaign on NPS should include targeted information for young people and emphasise that legal does not mean safe;
  • those working in this field, including the media, should stop using the term “legal highs” as it is very misleading;
  • the Welsh Government should encourage the UK Government to move as quickly as possible to implement the suggested ban on the supply of NPS.

To read all 14 of our recommendations please see our report (PDF, 1MB) or the shorter summary (PDF, 252KB) document.

What did the UK and Welsh Governments think about our report?

The Welsh Government’s response (PDF, 295KB) to our report accepts fully all of our recommendations. The UK Government Home Office (PDF, 69KB) has also written to the Committee to note that it welcomes our work and supports each of our 14 recommendations.

What happens next?

Our report will be debated by all Assembly Members on 13 May in the Siambr, the Assembly’s main debating chamber. This will be an opportunity to draw attention to this important topic, and to put questions to the Welsh Government’s Health Minister about what the Welsh Government will do to deliver our recommendations.

I would like to thank everyone who took the time to share their experiences of NPS and their views about what needs to be done to raise public awareness of their harms. Although the Committee itself can only recommend changes rather than being able to make the changes itself, we will continue to put pressure on the Welsh Government and others to deliver the actions set out in our report.

How to get involved and keep up-to date with our work