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There and back again: an unexpected journey…

Zoe Kelland, 20, of Rhoose is a former apprentice at the National Assembly for Wales. After graduating from the Assembly’s inaugural apprenticeship scheme, Zoe now works for the Health and Social Committee and recently attended the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2014 to represent, reflect, and celebrate the Assembly’s apprenticeship scheme.

This is her story… #apprenticeshipawardscymru

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L-R: National Assembly for Wales attendees at the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2014: Carolyn Owen (Secondment Manager), Lowri Williams (Head of HR), Ross Davies (Equalities Manager), and Zoe Kelland (TS Health and Social Care Committee and former apprentice).

I’m Zoe, I currently work for the Health and Social Committee, but I originally joined the Assembly two years ago as an Apprentice. I gained an NVQ in Business and Administration whilst working with the Visitor Relations team and the Translation and Reporting Service. I completed the apprenticeship scheme after a year and when an opportunity arose to work in Committee Service I was able to successfully apply. I have been working for the Health and Social Care Committee for eight months now and learn something new every day.

Even though I am no longer an apprentice by name, when the Assembly was shortlisted for the prestigious Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2014, it was a great opportunity for me to represent current and former apprentices at the prestigious Celtic Manor Hotel.

According to National Training Federation Wales (NTfW) ‘the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru celebrates the outstanding achievements of learners, employers and providers involved in the delivery of quality apprenticeships across Wales.’

On 31 October, 2014 the Assembly was shortlisted in the Large Employer of the Year category with fellow finalists:

  • City & County of Swansea Corporate Building and Property Services, Swansea;
  • Dunbia (Wales), Llanybydder; and
  • GE Aviation Wales, Nantgarw.

“Let’s all celebrate and have a good time!!” (Celebration, Kool & the Gang)
Having spent hours getting ready and making ourselves beautiful, we arrived at the Celtic Manor in style… via taxi!! We registered and headed over for a photo shoot, and then headed into the award ceremony reception area where we began tweeting from the @AssemblyWales feed.

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Whilst we were waiting to enter the main hall for the award ceremony, we were sipping on flutes of champagne and were entertained by a wonderfully talented magician. Before we knew it, the reception was full of people: apprentices, employers, magicians and the familiar faces of Assembly Members. The doors opened and we all went to find our tables.

We were also joined by Picasso (Griffiths) at our table, who managed to draw some fantastic cartoons which had a striking resemblance to some familiar celebrities (see below):

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Top L-R: Carol Smiley and David Baddiel. Bottom L-R: Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daley

The award ceremony was amazing!! We had excellent food, entertainment and the organisation of the event was first class. It was also interesting to see different apprentices from different industries, and how organisations provide opportunities for young people across Wales. There was a broad range of skills on show: from butchery to administration; hairdressing to engineering; even the wonderful meal we ate was prepared by catering apprentices working at the Celtic Manor.

Unfortunately the Assembly didn’t win the award, but we were thrilled to be nominated, especially considering that this was the first year we’d applied. The winners in our category were GE Aviation Wales, Nantgarw, and a full list of the winners can be seen on the National Training Federation Wales (NTfW) website.

The evening was brought to a close with a performance by Sophie Evans, known for her role as Dorothy in the West End’s version of the Wizard of Oz. The ceremony was truly enjoyable and we were all proud to be representing the Assembly. The evening also reminded me how far I’ve travelled since starting my apprenticeship scheme, and how long I have left on my journey along the Assembly’s yellow brick road…

Hopefully the Assembly can continue to provide opportunities to young people, and maybe next year we’ll bring home first prize? Fingers crossed!!

 


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The Outreach Team launches its own Twitter Account!

This week we launched the Twitter account for the National Assembly for Wales’ Outreach Team to provide the public with an insight into the work we do every day to support Assembly business and engage with the people of Wales.

From the @SeneddOutreach account we’ll be Tweeting about our work going out into communities across Wales to engage with groups and inform them about the work of the Assembly and how they can get involved through our Understanding and Engaging workshops. We’ll be Tweeting about the groups and organisations we’ve visited as well as some of the great ideas we’ve heard from citizens across Wales.

twitter activity

Our Understanding and Engaging workshops are borne from our belief in the importance of citizens truly understanding who represents them and the decisions that are made on their behalf. We want to fuel debate that’s based on real knowledge and understanding and allow the public to ensure that their voices are heard in the decision-making process. Ensuring a better voice for citizens can only positively impact decisions made by the National Assembly for Wales that in turn affect us all.

More on our Understanding and Engaging workshops.

Housing Bill workshop

Through this account we’ll also keep followers updated on the work we do through our partnerships. Having worked closely with groups such as Scouts Wales, Women Making a Difference and the Stroke Association, the Outreach Team has developed close ties with organisations which have been mutually beneficial by drawing on knowledge of how to take part in the work of the National Assembly for Wales, for example, our work in developing resources for the Democracy Challenge Badge with ScoutsWales.

More on our Democracy Challenge Badge resources.

Keep up with our activities by following our new Twitter feed: @SeneddOutreach. Alternatively you can keep up to date with our work through the Outreach pages on the Assembly website.


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Chair’s Blog: Gender-based Violence, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Bill

 Stage 1 Committee Report

Christine Chapman AM

On 14 November 2014, we published our Stage 1 Report on the Bill and made 12 recommendations to the Minister that we believe will strengthen the Bill.

Whilst there was overwhelming support for the main aims and the need for the Bill, many respondents did have some concerns about its content.

Our main concerns were:

  • the need to ensure victims have a right to services;
  • the importance of education;
  • the needs of children and young people; and
  • the role and responsibilities of the Ministerial Adviser.

We believe that the Bill should have a rights-based framework to ensure that victims of violence and abuse in a domestic setting have a right to access services. We recommended that the Bill should refer to “Violence Against Women”, rather than “Gender-based violence”, as we feel it is important to recognise that women are disproportionately affected by these types of abuse. However, we made clear this should not preclude male victims from accessing services.

Our other main concern was the omission of education proposals within the Bill, given that education is the most crucial part of preventing gender-based violence. We recommended that the Minister makes it compulsory for schools to provide age-appropriate education programmes on health relationships. We also felt there was a lack of emphasis on the specific needs of children and young people who are at risk, or victims of domestic abuse and we believe this should be addressed.

Whilst we believe the role of the Ministerial Adviser will be key in providing strong leadership to deliver the aims of the Bill, we think this role should be independent of government and the title of the role should be changed to reflect this arms-length position.

Shortly there will be a Stage 1 debate in Plenary and the Assembly will be asked if it agrees with the general principles of the Bill.

How to get involved and keep up-to date


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Environment and Sustainability Committee – work for the Autumn term 2014

Environment and Sustainability Committee – work for the Autumn term 2014

This term the Environment and Sustainability Committee is busy with a number of inquiries and scrutiny work of proposed legislation underway. Here’s a snapshot of its work for this Autumn term.

One of the key tasks faced by Assembly Committees each autumn is scrutiny of the Welsh Government’s draft budget for the financial year beginning the following April. The Committee has held a session with the Minister for Natural Resources and the Deputy Minister for Farming and Food. It will be publishing its view, in the form of a letter to the Finance Committee, on 6 November.

The Committee is currently preparing to report on its inquiry into Recycling in Wales. This inquiry sought to look at current local authority household waste recycling practices and arrangements, including the information available to householders and how recycling rates can be improved. It covered all waste materials, including food and garden waste.

A public consultation was held as part of the Inquiry to gather evidence between 9 May 2014 and 10 June 2014 and a fantastic response was received from people all ages and areas in Wales. Thank you to all who completed questionnaires and online surveys, shared pictures of recycling in your area, tweeted views on recycling in Wales or responded in a number of other ways. Your input and contribution to the Committee’s work is so important.

To keep an eye on the latest developments for this inquiry please take a look at the Inquiry into Recycling Storify. The Committee is hoping to publish its report on this inquiry before Christmas.

You can also view the YouTube playlist for the Inquiry here.

This term, the Committee faces a heavy load of legislation, with two Bills to consider – the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Bill and the Planning (Wales) Bill.

The Committee is nearing the end of the first stage of its scrutiny of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Bill. The purpose of the Bill is s to put sustainable development at the heart of government and public bodies, with the aim of ensuring that current needs are met without compromising the needs of future generations .

It sets 6 national goals to improve the well-being  of people in Wales  of by tackling generational challenges such as climate change,  poverty, and health inequalities.

The Committee has completed gathering evidence on this Bill, having heard from a range of stakeholders and the Minister for Natural Resources, Carl Sargeant AM. The Committee is currently in the process of drafting  the  report on its  Stage 1 consideration of  the Bill. , Updates will be available on the Committee’s web page.

Read more about the Future Generations (Wales) Bill

Recently the Committee began its consideration of general principles (also known as Scrutiny Stage 1) of the Planning (Wales) Bill. This Government Bill was introduced by the Minister for Natural Resources, Carl Sargeant AM, following work by the Welsh Government into how planning processes can be improved in Wales.

Consideration of the Bill is now underway by the Committee to assess if it should become law, and to ensure that it reaches the highest standards if it does. A consultation on this Bill opened on 10 October and interested people and organisations will need to submit their responses by 7 November.

Please note that this Bill does not deal with any individual planning cases or approaches to any one type of planning, but with the processes involved.

Following this consultation the Committee will invite individuals and organisations to give evidence during meetings of the Environment and Sustainability Committee before compiling a report and making any recommendations it may wish to make in order to improve the Bill.

If you’d like to share your views on the processes by which planning decisions are made, and how you think this could be improved, please respond to this consultation by Friday 7 November 2014: public consultation on the Planning (Wales) Bill.

More information on the Planning (Wales) Bill

Most of the Committee’s time is dedicated to its scrutiny of the two Bills mentioned above, but it is fitting in some inquiry work too, when time allows. The Committee is holding a number of short inquires and one-off sessions. They are:

  • A short inquiry into the European Commission proposals for organic farming;
  • A round table discussion of animal welfare issue;
  • Continuing its inquiry into Fuel Poverty and Energy Efficiency; and
  • A presentation on the lessons for Wales from the German Energiewende.

The organic farming inquiry is examining the potential impacts new proposals by the European Commission on organic products could have for Wales.

Read more about the inquiry into organic production and labelling of organic products

The session on animal welfare will cover issues such as control of dogs legislation, non-stun slaughter of animals; animals in circuses and the regulation of animal sanctuaries.

Continuing with the inquiry it began last summer, the Committee is hearing from energy companies in relation to Fuel Poverty and Energy Efficiency.

The Committee is also taking a presentation on the potential lessons for Wales from the German experience of developing community energy.

If you’d like to book a seat to view any Committee meeting, contact the Booking Team on 0845 010 5500 / 01492 523 200 or assembly.bookings@wales.gov.uk . You can also view the Committee through the Assembly’s broadcasting channel Senedd.tv.

If you’d like to keep up to date with this Committee’s work, why not follow its progress on its Twitter feed? Follow @SeneddEnv for all the latest information.


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Scouts Wales – Democracy Challenge Badge

Back in 2012 the National Assembly for Wales’ Outreach team formalised a partnership with Scouts Wales in order to provide them with resources for their Democracy Challenge Badge. The Democracy Challenge is intended to encourage young people to explore the democratic processes of the United Kingdom, Wales and Local Authorities in order that they are better placed to make their own judgements in the future and take an appropriate part in democracy in society.

Resources have been created by the Outreach team in order for leaders to have guidelines and activities in place to complete the requirements of the badge. Once completed the Scouts receive the badge below:

Badge

Over the last couple of months the Outreach team have been busy promoting these resources with Scout leaders from all across Wales and have attended numerous events in order to do this.

Back in June the National Assembly for Wales’ Outreach bus was present at the Scouts Wales Scout Camp in Builth Wells and the Outreach team spoke to over 1,000 Scouts about the work of the Assembly. Scouts also received the opportunity to have their say on their recycling services by filling in a questionnaire.

bus

Following this the Outreach team visited a number of Scout groups across Wales to introduce them to the Democracy Challenge Badge and to help them on their way to completing the requirements. These groups included Wrexham Beaver and Cub Scouts. The group received an introductory workshop which gave them the opportunity to vote in a mini election. Following on from the workshop the group visited the Senedd in Cardiff in order to help them complete one of the requirements of the badge, which asks them to find out about the Senedd and to create a poster to explain to an adult who it is that meets there.

Wrexham Scouts

Susan Mort, the Cub Scout Leader said:

“Wrexham District cubs visited the Senedd in Cardiff to find out about how their Parliament works and to learn about the meaning of the structure and fabrics used in its construction which is all part of Wales heritage.

We had a successful visit from Caryl who works for the Outreach team visiting organisations giving presentations on the Welsh Assembly. Beavers and Cubs from 6 to 10 and a half years old found out about the Senedd then took a vote on what they thought was most important to them which included sport and education.

As young as they are, they all took part and the results showed how aware they are of the importance of things like education.”

On Saturday 18 September 2014 the Outreach Team were present at the Scouts Wales AGM and Conference at Builth Wells High School. We set up a stand with hard copies of the resources and information publications for leaders to take home with them.

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The Outreach team then had the opportunity to give a presentation on the partnership between the National Assembly for Wales and Scouts Wales with regards to the Democracy Challenge Badge, how leaders can get hold of resources and to encourage as many leaders as possible to take up the challenge with their groups.

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Following the AGM and Conference the Outreach Team spoke to Debbie Tanner who is the Senior Development Officer for Scouts Wales. Below, Debbie tells us what she thinks of the resources created for the Democracy Challenge Badge.

If you would like any further information on the resources, or would like a member of the Outreach team to come out and speak to your Scout group then please do not hesitate to contact us on 01492 523219 or outreachteam@wales.gov.uk

For any other updates on the work of the National Assembly for Wales, please follow our twitter page @AssemblyWales.


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Chair’s Blog: Gender-based Violence, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Bill

Christine Chapman AM

I’m Christine Chapman (@ChrisChapmanAM), the Chair of the Communities, Equality and Local Government Committee. This term the Committee has been busy working on the Gender-based Violence, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Bill. A Bill is a draft law – once a Bill has been considered and passed by the Assembly it is given Royal Assent by the Queen, then it becomes law. The Bill was introduced into the Assembly on 30 June 2014 and the Committee had until 14 November 2014 to look at the ‘general principles’ or the main aims of the Bill.

About the Bill

This Government Bill was originally introduced by Lesley Griffiths AM, who at the time was Minister for Local Government and Government Business. Following a Government reshuffle Leighton Andrews AM, Minister for Public Services took over responsibility for the Bill, from 12 September 2014.

The Bill seeks to ensure a focus across the public sector on processes in place for prevention, protection and support around gender-based violence, domestic abuse and sexual violence.

It will require Local Authorities and Local Health Boards to prepare strategies (or plans) to try to contribute to ending these forms of violence. A Ministerial Adviser will also be appointed and his/her job will be to work with Welsh Government by giving advice and assistance to the Welsh Ministers in tackling these serious issues.

 

The work of the Committee

Stakeholder event

Before starting our official Committee work on the Bill, we held an informal stakeholder event where we heard from service providers working with those affected by abuse. This was an extremely interesting event where Members of the Committee had the opportunity to speak to a large number of people from relevant organisations and gather a wide range of views. As the Chair, I found this very useful in preparing for our evidence gathering sessions as I was aware of the main issues and concerns.

Written and oral evidence gathering – Stage 1 of the Bill process

As I mentioned, the Committee was given a deadline of 14 November, which allowed us 12 weeks to work on this Bill. This is called Stage 1, when we hear evidence and prepare a report suggesting recommendations to the Minister on improvements that the Committee proposes could be made to the Bill. We started our work by running a consultation and asking organisations and members of the public to look at the Bill and write to us with their views based on our terms of reference. We received 90 written responses. We also held public Committee meetings where we invited relevant organisations to speak directly with the Committee and answer questions that Members asked. We heard from a wide variety of organisations including Barnados, Welsh Women’s Aid, and Safer Wales, among many others, helping to inform the Committee’s decisions.

Evidence from the Minister

Another really important part of stage 1 is to hear from the Minister in charge of the Bill and to ask important questions about the purpose and detail of the Bill. We did this at the start and end of the stage 1 process. We held an evidence session with the original Minister in charge, Lesley Griffiths AM on 17 July and then again with Leighton Andrews AM, who is now in charge at our final session on 17 September.

Considering our Stage 1 Report

Now that we have finished taking evidence, we have been considering the information received and we will be publishing our report shortly.

How to get involved and keep up-to date


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The Outreach Team: Helping the public to Understand and Engage with the Assembly

The Outreach Team works across the whole of Wales, travelling far and wide to visit groups and deliver workshops in order to support the democratic principles of the National Assembly for Wales.

For us, democracy is about citizens being informed of who represents them, how decisions made affect them and how they can get involved in those decisions.

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That’s why we offer our Understanding and Engaging workshops to groups all across Wales. We aim to connect the people of Wales with the work of the Assembly by discussing:

  • Who represents you
  • How decisions made in the Assembly affect Wales and its people
  • How the Assembly hold the Welsh Government to account
  • How you can get involved in decisions made by the Assembly

Scouts

Thus far this term we have engaged with over a thousand people to talk about the work of the Assembly. We’ve visited groups ranging from Scouts Wales to Swansea’s University of the Third Age, from Digartref Ynys Môn to Neath Port Talbot CVS in South Wales.

NPTCVS Tweet

We also exhibited at the Communities First Annual Conference in Llandudno where we met with representatives from Communities First clusters in all corners of Wales to discuss our work and, drawing on the conference theme, how we can work together toward a common goal for communities in Wales.

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The participants in each of our sessions have been great, many have noted how they hadn’t previously understood the difference between the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Government, and questions have been varied and insightful, leading to some very passionate debates!

Here’s what one participant had to say:

“…I enjoyed Kevin’s talk to Swansea U3A today. I have only recently moved back to Wales after 40 years away and, frankly, have not got around to reading up how the Assembly works – after Kevin’s engaging talk I feel I’m now up to speed so a big thank you to him and his colleague.”

SwanseaU3A

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@wales.gov.uk or phone us on 01492 523220.

To learn more about where the Outreach team have been recently and which organisations and groups we’ve been visiting, as well as to learn about the work we do on behalf of committees, please visit our pages on the Assembly website.

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