The National Assembly For Wales

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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

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BME Women pioneers: BME women who have paved the way for others to follow

bhmOctober is Black History Month (BHM), it is the time of year when the culture, history and achievements of Black Minority Ethnic (BME) communities is recognised and celebrated.

The contributions that BME people have made to the development of British society, technology, economy and culture has been made possible by those brave men and women who paved the way. They were the beacon for other BME people, role models and examples of what was achievable.

The Black History Association Wales, in partnership with the African Community Centre, Wales Millennium Centre, Unison Cymru, Radio Cardiff and The Prince’s Trust Cymru, have announce this year’s theme as ‘Great Black Women, Past & Present’. In line with that theme here are 12 pioneering BME women who have paved the way for others to follow:

1.  Mary Prince: The first Black woman to write and publish an autobiography ‘The History of Mary Prince: A West Indian Slave’, an account of the horrors of life on the plantations enslavement, published in Britain c.1831. Mary Prince was also the first woman to present an anti-slavery petition to Parliament.

2. Una Marson:The first Black female broadcaster at the BBC from 1939  to 1946.

3. Elisabeth Welch: One of the first Black people to have her own BBC radio series in 1935, ‘Soft Lights and Sweet Music’, which made her a household name in Britain.

4. Sislin Fay Allen: Britain’s first black WPC, joining the Metropolitan  Police in 1968.

5. Lilian Bader: One of the first women in the RAF to qualify as an  instrument repairer, after joining the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. Visit  the Ministry Of Defense’s blog to find out more about BME people in the armed forces

6. Moira Stuart, OBE: the first female newsreader of African-Caribbean  heritage on British television.

7. Diane Abbott, MP: The first black woman Member of Parliament when she was elected to the House of Commons in the 1987 general election.

8. Betty Campbell: Who in the 1970s became the nation’s first black head teacher with her post at Mount Stuart Primary in Butetown, Cardiff.

9. and 10. Baroness Valerie Amos: The first black woman cabinet minister and joint first black woman peer with Baroness  Patricia Scotland.

11. Dame Jocelyn Barrow: The first black woman Governor of the BBC.

12. Claudia Jones:  Founder of Britain’s first black weekly newspaper “The  Westindian Gazette”, also known as the mother of the Notting Hill  Carnival.

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#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.


How should the National Assembly for Wales be run in the 5th Assembly?

Senedd during Plenary showing AMs in their seats

Have you ever wondered why a Bill was scrutinised by a particular committee and not another? Do you think the number of AMs who sit on Assembly committees is appropriate? Does the way Assembly business is timetabled allow you to fully engage in the way you’d like?

The Business Committee is chaired by the Presiding Officer, and is made up of Assembly Members from each of the political groups represented in the Assembly.

After the Assembly election in May next year, the new Business Committee will need to take a number of key decisions, including:

  • The weekly timetable, sets out when committees can meet, when party groups can meet and which Ministers answer questions for each Plenary session in the Senedd Chamber.
  • The Business Committee also plays a procedural role and can recommend amending Standing Orders, which set out the rules and requirements for the way the Assembly conducts its Business, to change the practice and procedures of the Assembly. For example, in January 2013, Standing Orders were changed to shorten the deadlines for tabling questions to the First Minister and Welsh Ministers so as to allow Members to table more topical questions. A tracked version of the Standing Orders (PDF, 1.33MB) that have been changed during the Fourth Assembly is available on the Assembly’s website.
  • The Presiding Officer and Business Committee have also introduced procedural reforms since its establishment including regular Individual Member Debates and an opportunity for party leaders and party spokespeople to ask questions without notice during questions to Ministers.

The current committee has decided to launch a consultation to review what has been successful and what hasn’t over the past five years to help inform the decisions of the new committee. If you have any views on the above, and have any specific examples (good or bad) you would like to raise with us, we would love to hear from you. You can do this by e-mailing

If you would like to know more about the consultation, please visit the Business Committee’s legacy report consultation page. Here you will find the consultation’s terms of reference and information about how you can contribute. The consultation will close on Friday 13 November. Your comments will be considered by the Committee and will help form its legacy report.

How to find out more and get involved

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October is Black History Month (BHM): BME Heroes

To celebrate Black History Month the National Assembly for Wales Black Minority Ethnic (BME) staff Network would like to share the people that have been their role models and who have inspired them – their ‘BME Heroes’.

Muhammad Ali – A former professional boxer

Image of Muhammad Ali

Image in the public domain by Ira Rosenberg


“A devout Muslim, who never gave up despite the challenges he faced as a black man, especially in the 1960’s and 1970’s.   He has encouraged people to respect and better understand one another and to strive to be the best that they can. He epitomises how sports can be used to change social values.”

Stephen K. Amos – A stand-up comedian

Image of Stephen K Amos

Image taken at 2005 Edinburgh Fringe. Released to the public domain

“For his work with raising the profile of homosexuality, in his stand up performances, like the revealing solo show ‘All of Me’, at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, in which he publicly acknowledged his own homosexuality to his audience for the first time.”

Tracy Chapman – A singer-songwriter

Image by Hans Hillewaert under Creative Commons License

Image by Hans Hillewaert under Creative Commons License

“Lyrically her songs, such as ‘Talkin’ ‘bout a revolution’ and ‘Fast Car’, highlight the importance of speaking up against injustice and bring awareness to the struggles of poverty.”

Nelson Mandela – Former President of South Africa

Image in public domain on, from article by Katie Arango

Image in public domain on, from article by Katie Arango

“A humble leader who preached peace and forgave the people who put him into isolation for 27 years, and for leading all South Africans though a spirit of forgiveness and harmony. If I could be half the person he is I would be the happiest person.”

Pranab Mukherjee – Current President of India

Image in the public domain

Image in the public domain

“Because of the work he has done with poor people. He is an ambassador for the poor.”

Barack Obama – Current President of the United States

Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

“As a BME person who has risen to arguably one of the most powerful positions in the world, you see that things are changing and that gives you hope. He is a great icon as every time you see him, you see a black man who is articulate and conducts himself well, even in the face of provocation.”

Michelle Obama – First Lady of the United State, lawyer, writer, big charity worker

Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy

Image in the public domain. Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy

“She is an incredible lady and fabulous human being, for many reasons, including her commitment in the promotion of a healthy nutrition and the right to women’s education.”

Oprah Winfrey – Media proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist

licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0 License. Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0 License Portions not contributed by visitors are Copyright 2015 Tangient LLC

licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0 License. Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0 License
Portions not contributed by visitors are Copyright 2015 Tangient LLC

“She is an example of triumph over diversity. Not only is she a real rags to riches story, but on reaching the top of her field she has used her position to make a difference, using her influence and success to inspire, educate and empower people of all walks of life all over the world.”

Stevie Wonder – Musician

licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Brazil license.

licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Brazil license.

“A child prodigy. Naturally gifted and really talented, he taught himself to begin playing instruments at the age 4. He overcome difficulties and adversity to rise to the top of his profession and remained relevant and at the top of his game all of his working life.”

Malala Yousafzai – Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate

Image by Russell Watkins/Department for International Development. Available under the terms of Crown Copyright/Open Government License/Creative Commons

Image by Russell Watkins/Department for International Development. Available under the terms of Crown Copyright/Open Government License/Creative Commons

“A strong modern role model. After her traumatic experience, her courage and determination to make and seek change for women in all parts of the world – so that they can have an education- really stands out in my mind. She’s an incredibly brave woman with an incredible story. At only 18, she has already achieved so much and is set to accomplish so much more with her endeavours.”

Leymah Gbowee – Liberian anti-war and women’s rights leader, joint Noble Peace Prize winner in 2011

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License

“An amazing individual with a colourful life and a truly inspiring person who has shown that with conviction and determination, anything can happen!”

If you are interested in finding out more about our BME staff network contact Raz Roap the Chair of the BME staff Network.

Plan to visit the Assembly? Check out our website or contact us by phone, on 0300 200 6565, or email us at

To find out more about the events taking place across Wales visit the Black History Month Wales website.


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October is Black History Month

bhmOctober is Black History Month.

First celebrated in the UK in 1987, Black History Month (BHM) continues to be marked annually every October.

It is the time of year when the culture, history and achievements of Black Minority Ethnic (BME) communities take centre stage.

Throughout October events are taking place, nationally, to recognise and celebrate the achievements and contributions that BME people have made to the development of British society, technology, economy and arts & culture. To find out more about the events taking place across Wales visit the BHM Wales website.

To celebrate BHM the National Assembly for Wales BME staff Network have organised a range of activities and articles that will happen throughout October to raise awareness and foster an understanding of Black history.

During October our BME staff Network will be promoting their ‘BME Heroes’, the people that have been their role models and who have inspired them. Keep an eye on our blog throughout October to find out more.

We will also have a stall at the BHM Wales showcase event, at the Wales Millennium Centre on Saturday 24 October, a highlight of Black History Month. Why not come along and visit our stall, we would be very pleased to see you. The free day-long music and dance showcase will be celebrating African Diaspora culture and its contributions to Wales and beyond with music, song, dance, great food and great company.

BHM1If you are interested in finding out more about our BME staff network contact Raz Roap the Chair of the BME staff Network.




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GovCampCymru 2015 #gccy15 at the Pierhead

This year, GovCampCymru held its second event in the Pierhead, which forms part of the National Assembly for Wales’ estate in Cardiff Bay.

It was a glorious day – but the building took centre stage for most of it:

GovCamp is an event where people come together to discuss, create and innovate, looking specifically at how technology, new thinking and public services can improve society.

It runs on an ‘unconference’ basis, where the agenda for the day is decided by people proposing workshop or discussion topics on the day.

The event in Wales is co-ordinated by the Sartori Lab, along with the help of scores of volunteers and sponsors. An overview of the day is available on the Good Practice Wales Pinterest board.

If you are interested in an overview of what was discussed on the day, you can view the Google Doc session notes.

If you work in the public sector and are interested in keeping the flame of innovation and discussion going between annual events, Sartori Lab have arranged a Bara Brith Camp (which was an outcome of one of the sessions).

This time, a number of Assembly staff went along, each interested in a different aspect of public service. Here are their comments about the day.


Dean George, Digital Media Manager @deanogeorge
(centre, pictured with @dailingual to the left and Dyfrig from @GoodPracticeWAO to the right)


This was my first unconference experience and I really enjoyed the freedom of discussion it afforded everyone there. It ensures that only engaged people remain in dialogue with you and you get some amazing ideas as a result. The great thing about an unconference is that the best conversations can happen in between sessions, perhaps talking over a coffee. These aren’t forced ‘networking breaks’ but fluid and stimulating debates you have to be pulled away from at times. It also helps that people who gave up their Saturday are bound to have passion for this field.

I spent the morning session talking about Welsh language speech to text technology, get in touch with Gareth Morlais (@melynmelyn) if you have ideas on this. I also listened to a session led by the Assembly on how we could make outputs of Assembly Committees more engaging to a wider audience. It seems that having separate Twitter accounts for Committees with different remits is well received but we need to do more to make the reporting side even more engaging. Our Slate reports might be a step in the right direction. This is definitely the format for getting the most out of your time away from the desk, I’d like to see it widely adopted across the public sector. Try using it for your next staff away day!

Helia Phoenix, Senior Digital Media Manager @phoenixlily


This was my third GovCamp. I’ve been to one in London and two in Wales, and have since spent a lot of time pestering others to join in!

I may be biased, but I’ve vastly preferred the Welsh ones. The content was varied enough for both to encourage people to attend sessions on things they might not know about, plus it deals with the Welsh context, which is different from English / UK national issues.

Talking about how to improve things, with people from Wales and outside it, is a great way to spend a day!

Although I attended interesting sessions throughout the day, by far my favourite part of GCCY was the time spent in the pub afterwards having the blockchain explained to me by @SymRoe of Democracy Club and James Cattell @jacattell from the Cabinet Office, using various metaphors involving buying rounds of drinks, free shots (big thanks to those two for preserving with me!). Two hours later, I think I got it …


Kevin Davies, Public Engagement Manager @kevo_davies


Helia and I went to GovCampCymru last year, and liked it enough that not only did we want to go again, but we also felt that it would be a really good fit to hold GovCamp at the National Assembly, and have more people from the Assembly be a part of the day. This time around we were joined by a couple of people from our online and social media team, and representatives from our translation and legislation teams. It was great to be a part of the event again.

The thing that struck me last year was how great it was to have so many positive and knowledgeable people in the same room at the same time, people who are passionate enough to give up their time on a Saturday. It’s a great was to share practical ideas – as well as getting into massive ideological debates! This year was no exception, and as was the case last year, there was a real good mix of issues discussed including the accessibility of committee reporting outputs, how to progress the digital agenda in Wales, promoting elections, and the future of democracy…a lot of stuff to try and fix in four hour long workshops!

Tom Jackson, Scrutiny Support Team Clerk


I pitched a workshop on ‘Better reporting? Improving the accessibility of Committee Outputs.’ The original aim of this session was to get a range of ideas about how we could make the outputs of committee scrutiny more accessible/attractive/digestible, with a particular focus on more innovative ways of publishing information and how they’ve evaluated the success of those methods. However, in keeping with the nature of GovCamp, the discussion didn’t explicitly follow this direction. Instead, one of the themes of the session was that a bigger issue for the Assembly was how we select content for particular audiences, rather than how we present it.

Attendees suggested that there are three different audiences for Committee outputs:

  1. Government Ministers/Civil Servants, who need to be convinced of the validity of recommendations (with evidence for/against them);
  2. People who were involved in an inquiry, who want to know what difference their evidence/input had on the Committee’s conclusions. It may be worthwhile asking such people how they want this information to be presented. Some people may want information to be presented in an Easy Read format;
  3. The wider public- who may be more interested in ‘what happens next,’ than what the Committee recommended/reported. Such people will find jargon very difficult to understand. They will primarily be interested in how Government responses to Committee scrutiny may affect their lives. Answering this may require more of a network/link between “the people writing reports” and “the people delivering the recommendations.”


Gruffydd Jones, Translation Deputy Business Enhancement and Change Manager

In terms of language technology, there was an interesting session pitched by Gareth Morlais from the Welsh Government on the possibility of crowdsourcing speech-to-text technology.

Given our work on language technology and continued interest in the field, we are well placed at the Assembly to participate in any developments on speech-to-text in the future and we’d be keen to explore how we could participate in any crowdsourcing projects.


Alison Flye, Digital Information Assistant @teaflye

(Alison is second left)


This was my first experience of an “unconference” and I think the format worked well. At the sessions I attended everyone was fully engaged and the atmosphere of enthusiasm was infectious – there was a great buzz in the building. GovCampers took over the iconic Pierhead for the day, which meant there was was plenty of space for 100 attendees and 20 workshops.

My first session was about citizen campaigns using digital. People know how to complain about problems with their rubbish or a park, but not about digital issues. How can we change this? (Part of the problem is that actually, many people still don’t know to approach their councils and councillors, even about parks, but that’s something for another workshop.) After that I attended Dave McKenna’s (@localopolis) session on Making Democracy More Like Rock n’ Roll. A worthy ideal if ever there was one, and a great session with some useful ideas to take away. Dave has gathered everyone’s input together and blogged about it already.


The following images were all taken by WNBishop on Flickr.














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