Author: Blog

GWLAD – ten things you need to know

Darllenwch yr erthygl yma yn Gymraeg | View this post in Welsh

1. What is it?

To celebrate 20 years of devolution, the National Assembly for Wales is hosting the GWLAD festival – five days of events in Cardiff Bay, followed by three mini-festivals during the Autumn of 2019.
We have worked in partnership with a number of organisations to create events which offer something for everyone: art, music, comedy and sport, as well as thought-provoking lectures and panel discussions on a range of topics including journalism, politics and culture.

2. When is it?

25-29 September 2019
We also have two regional festivals planned for Autumn 2019 – follow our social media channels for details.

3. Where is it?

Events this week will be held in either the Senedd or Pierhead buildings in Cardiff Bay. If you’re not in south Wales don’t worry, we have three mini festivals planned for later in the year across the country. Keep an eye on our social media channels for details.

4. Who is going to be there?

Charlotte Church and Rhys Ifans will be with us to chat about their careers, what inspires them and Welsh devolution.

Journalist Carole Cadwalladr will be talking about breaking the Cambridge Analytica story, while Welsh sporting legends Colin Charvis, Tanni Grey Thompson and Professor Laura McAllister will be discussing how to inspire the next generation of sporting heroes.

5. What’s new?

BBC Question Time will be broadcast from the Senedd for the very first time. Guests from the worlds of politics and media answer topical questions raised by members of the public. Got a question? Apply via the BBC to be part of the audience.

In another first, the Senedd will be hosting a spectacular night of music to celebrate the thriving and varied music scene in Wales.
Come along on 28 September to see Geraint Jarman, Eädyth & Jukebox, Gwilym, Rachel K Collier and Afro Cluster.

6. I don’t like politics – what’s on for me?

How about some comedy?

Little Wander, the team behind the Machynlleth Comedy Festival will be bringing some of our finest Welsh comedians to the Senedd for the first time. Taking to the Senedd stage for the first time will be: Tudur Owen, Lloyd Langford, Kiri Pritchard-McLean, Mike Bubbins, Matt Rees and Esyllt Sears.

Or some sport?

If rugby is your thing, come along to the Pierhead where we’ll be showing the Wales v Australia match on a big screen – your early morning journey will even be rewarded with a bacon roll and a cuppa.
You can also celebrate Welsh sporting achievements with Colin Charvis, Tanni Grey Thompson and Professor Laura McAllister as they discuss inspiring the next generation of heroes.

7. What about current affairs?

Join Public Affairs Cymru on 29 September as they look at the rise of fake news and its impact on political reporting. Panellists include Guto Harri – former Director of Communications for Boris Johnson, Ruth Mosalski of Wales Online and James Williams, BBC Political Correspondent.

How will Brexit affect Wales? Assembly Members from across the political spectrum – Jeremy Miles (Welsh Labour), Leanne Wood (Plaid Cymru) and Nick Ramsey (Welsh Conservatives) will be discussing Brexit, poverty and automation in Wales.

Cardiff University will be looking at how devolved issues in Wales are covered by mainstream media and broadcasters on 28 September.

Cardiff University’s Dr Justin Lewis will be asking do we need journalists? during his session on reporting and communicating news in the digital age.

8. What else is on?

Art and culture

During September the Senedd is hosting Many Voices, One Nation exhibition, featuring work by Ed Brydon, Luce + Harry, Zillah Bowes, John Poutney, James Hudson and Huw Alden Davies.
Come along on 28 September for an exclusive “in conversation” event with some of the artists as they talk about their influences and inspiration.

Can using a graphic novel format make history more accessible? Our talk about Chartism and the Newport rising looks at new ways to get people engaged with history, 28 September 14.00-15.00.

Aberystwyth University will be looking at the promotion of minority languages and what Wales could learn from the experiences of other nations such as Catalonia, Ireland, Canada and New Zealand.


ITV Wales’ Adrian Masters chairs a discussion looking back at 20 years of devolution in Wales on Wednesday 25 September.
The BBC’s Welsh Affairs Editor and Radio Wales presenter Vaughan Roderick will also be looking at the impact of devolution in Wales during his session as guest speaker, as we host the BBC Cymru Wales annual Patrick Hannan lecture on 27 September.
The Wales Governance Centre will be looking to the future during their session: Devolution: what does Wales think?

The Assembly has always boasted strong female representation, and in 2003 became the first in the world to achieve 50/50 gender balance. Join Chwarae Teg for an inspiring discussion on creating a Senedd equal for all women.

The economy

Ahead of Black History Month Wales, join Race Council Cymru for a look at challenges for equality in the Welsh economy. The expert panel includes Chantal Patel, Head of Inter-professional Studies at Swansea University, Sahar Al Faifi of MEND (Muslim Engagement and Development), Professor Parvaiz Ali, former head of Nuclear Medicine at Singleton Hospital, and Professor Emmanuel Ogbonna of Cardiff Business School.

The Institute of Welsh Affairs will be looking at the foundational economy – what is it and what difference can it make to Welsh communities?

9. How much are tickets?

All tickets to GWLAD events are free. They cannot be reissued or sold.

10. What if I don’t have a ticket?

We have a very limited number of extra tickets for popular events which will be made available this week.
A number of events will also be streamed live on Senedd TV and on the National Assembly for Wales’ social media channels.
Keep an eye on our Twitter and Facebook channels for further details of both tickets and broadcasts.

You can see a full list of all GWLAD events on our website.

Caring for the Pierhead bees: our staff volunteers

Darllenwch yr erthygl yma yn Gymraeg | View this post in Welsh

August 2019

The Assembly’s Pierhead building has been the home of two rooftop beehives since July 2018, regularly monitored and cared for by a small team of staff volunteers.

Despite having a rooftop location the hives are in a safe, sheltered spot which gives them protection from the worst of Cardiff Bay’s weather. Under the watchful eyes of our volunteers they settled in through autumn and survived their first winter.

Now it’s summer again, the bees are working hard and have started producing honey.

Here, some of our volunteers talk about their experiences:


It’s the height of summer and the Pierhead Bees are busier than ever foraging the surrounding areas of the Pierhead to build up stores of their glorious golden honey.

Whilst one of the hives had a relatively slow start this summer, the bees have more than made up for it and have now built up frame after frame of honey which will be harvested in the Autumn. It never ceases to amaze me just how hard working the bees are… To make just 1KG of honey, our Pierhead bees will have flown 145, 000km and could have visited up to 2000 flowers per day! As you can see from the photos below, they have been very busy indeed.

So how do the bees make honey? Our bees have been busy foraging the local area for nectar found in plants and wildflowers. The nectar is collected, then once inside the beehive, the worker bees repeatedly consume, digest and regurgitate the nectar into the cells. When it is the right consistency, the honey is then sealed which is what you can see in the photos below.

This will be the first season where we will be able to harvest honey, and as a new beekeeper I am excited to see the process. Honey has been harvested for thousands of years for its various benefits. Not only does it taste delicious and never goes off, but it has many medicinal properties too. It is anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory and can even be used to help relieve hay fever symptoms. Hopefully the bees will be kind enough to share some of their honey with us later in the year!

Did you know?
Honey stores have been found in the tombs of ancient Egyptian Pharaohs and when excavated were still edible 3000 years later! Proving the theory that honey never goes off!

Sian D

As a nature lover, I feel very lucky to be part of such an exciting project at the Assembly.

Who knew that there was so much to learn about bees?! I’ve been working on the project for just over a year now and I still find myself constantly learning about their ways and tricks. I’m nearly always surprised each time I lift the lid off a hive and peer in – particularly at the astonishing speed with which the hives change and develop.

The busy nature of the bees means that it is essential that we carry out weekly inspections during the summer months, while the flowers are blooming and pollination activity is in full swing. We work as a pair during the inspections, thoroughly scanning each frame as we work our way through the hive. While we scan we look for honey (their food supply); pollen; capped brood cells; larva; eggs; and the usually inconspicuous queen.

During an inspection you may find some of the bees raising their behinds in the air and frantically fanning their wings. If you are brave enough to put your face close to them then you will smell a lovely fresh scent of lemon being wafted up your nostrils. This scent that they release helps the foraging bees find their way home.

As you scan through the hives you will also find that the capped cells come in different sizes. The large raised ones will contain a drone bee (male) and the flatter cells contain a smaller female bee.

Did you know that the queen bee can choose the sex of its offspring? When a virgin queen first leaves the hive she will have multiple matings with drone bees during her flight. She then stores the sperm using it bit by bit as she lays her eggs. Her stores will usually last around three years. If she fertilizes an egg with sperm then a female bee will emerge, and a drone will emerge from an unfertilized egg. This ‘choice’ is determined by the size of the brood cells made by the worker bees. And these are only a few of the many fascinating facts about the wondrous bees!

Sian C

I jumped at the opportunity to be involved in the bee keeping here at the Assembly and my experience so far has not disappointed.

The bee keeping is fascinating and I find the time spent up on top of the Pierhead so relaxing. Caring for the bees and watching the hives grow and change has been an education, and I am in awe of the colonies and the way in which nature works.

I have learnt so much, not just about the bees, but also it has further peaked my interest in environmental issues and from this I have made some big changes to my consumer habits, diet and garden! Not only have I learnt a new skill, I have also met some amazing new people from all walks of Assembly life, many of whom I wouldn’t have had a chance to speak with beyond a quick ‘hello’ in the corridor.

Thanks for the opportunity to be part of such an innovative project – I love it!


I am always surprised to see the letters ‘Dr.’ in front of my name. But I am a doctor. Not the type you’d want on a plane when the stewards shout ‘is there a doctor on-board?!’ for I am (what my friends have coined) a ‘Dr of Bees’. My PhD was based on studying wild pollinators which involved identifying bee species and the flowers they feed on.

So, I was so excited to discover that the Assembly had started keeping bees. I am now a member of the Bee team (by no means secondary) and it is such a privilege. Although I had studied wild pollinator communities, I didn’t have any experience of keeping honey bees. I have learned so much from Nature’s Little Helpers and my fellow Bee team colleagues, thank you for the opportunity.

They are amazing animals. They truly work as a ‘hive mind’, each having specialised roles depending on their age, which they perform so diligently. The youngest bees are the cleaners. They progress through the roles of feeding their larval brothers and sisters, building the combs, guarding the hive and finally flying away to collect pollen and nectar.

Together they create the most meticulous and astonishing collective. And of course there is the Queen. But she doesn’t reign as you might imagine, for it is the worker bees that call the shots. Through cues, they control the queen’s activity – they even decide whether she lays a male or female grub!

Due to their rooftop location and not wanting to disturb the bees, the hives are not open to the public, although if you look carefully you might spot one of them gathering pollen around Cardiff Bay.

World Suicide Prevention Day – Supporting Teachers and Young People

Lynne Neagle AM

Suicide is a very difficult  topic and one that, too often, crosses the mind of many young people, including school children. That is why today – on World Suicide Prevention Day – I am glad to welcome the publication of Welsh Government’s first ever suicide and self-harm guidance to support teachers.

Suicide and young people

Suicide is the leading cause of death among young people.  The latest figures, released last week, from the Office of National Statistics show a marked increase in young people dying by suicide and a worrying increase in the number of the number of girls dying by suicide.

Suicide is preventable, which is why I am committed to raising awareness of suicide prevention. I really believe that, as a country, we must do all we can to intervene and stop preventable deaths. 

Supporting young people, teachers and schools

The tragic fact is that in 2017, some 226 school children across the UK lost their lives to suicide. Schools are clearly very much in need of guidance to support teachers and other professionals who regularly come into contact with children and young people.

Indeed, in my role as chair of the National Assembly’s Children, Young People and Education Committee, I called for such guidance on talking about suicide and self-harm to be issued to schools in our landmark report Mind Over Matter. I am pleased Welsh Government listened to us and is this week launching guidance to support school staff in responding to young people who are suicidal or self-harming. 

The challenge, now, will be implementation and going even further. The guidance is strong on how schools should respond to young people who are obviously struggling but it is desperately important we provide a bridge to help schools reach the young people that no one realises are struggling, the ones who we don’t know about until it is too late. 

We urgently need to be in a position where we are not simply responding to young people in obvious distress but are ensuring sensitive discussions about suicide take place appropriately in all schools. 

I have long believed that mental health is everyone’s business in a school, so at the same time as welcoming the new guidance I will continue to keep Welsh Government’s feet to the fire to ensure a sensitive approach to suicide prevention becomes an accepted part of the school timetable.

Schools and the education system have a key role in building emotional resilience. The Mind Over Matter report, published in April 2018, provided a road map for a step-change in support for children’s emotional and mental health. 

At the heart of our recommendations were calls for greater emphasis on resilience-building, and early intervention – to embed good mental health and coping strategies that will stay with youngsters for the rest of their lives.  

Improving the future for children, young people and adults

I firmly believe that if we get this right for our children and young people, so many other things will fall into place. They will learn better, they will attain more, they will get better jobs but they will also be more resilient adults. I think there is a direct link between getting this right and stemming the increase in mental health problems and in the number of adult suicides too.

We are not suggesting that teachers should become mental health experts. But we would like to see everyone who cares, volunteers or works with children and young people trained in emotional and mental health awareness to help tackle issues of stigma, promote good mental health and enable signposting to support services where necessary.

We were told during the inquiry that a lot of teachers are afraid of saying the wrong thing. I have spoken to teachers who have told me they are afraid to go home at night because they are the last line of defence for a young person who is self-harming and they don’t know what to do.

That is why we are pushing for the inclusion of basic mental health training – including how to talk about suicide – to be part of initial teacher training and continuous professional development. We really need to enable people who work with children and young people to feel comfortable having difficult conversations.

The importance of enabling people to talk about suicide is key. As a member of the joint ministerial group set up in response to Mind Over Matter to accelerate work on a whole-school approach to children’s mental health, I often find myself saying that if we focus  on compassion on building compassionate relationships with young people then it will follow that mental health becomes everyone’s business in a school.

I welcome this new guidance as a step forward in building that compassionate and kind approach, I hope it will encourage everyone to see that we all have a role to play in suicide prevention.

10 reasons to visit the Senedd this Summer

Darllenwch yr erthygl yma yn Gymraeg | View this post in Welsh

Looking for something to do this weekend? Why not head to Cardiff Bay to visit the Senedd?

From politics to architecture, from art to artisan Welsh products, the Senedd has something for everyone.

1. The award-winning architecture and design

The Senedd is truly one of a kind. It’s huge funnel and canopy made of sustainable Canadian cedar wood are best viewed from inside the building, where you can explore on two levels.

2. Explore the Senedd trail

Looking for some fun, free children’s activities to enjoy this weekend? Little explorers can time-travel through the centuries on our children’s trails. Search the Senedd and collect the clues – and find out lots of interesting facts along the way. Hand your completed card back to Reception and enter the draw to win a prize!

3. See what happens behind the scenes

Over the summer our guided tours include exclusive access to areas not usually open to the public. Our friendly, expert guides will take you on a journey through the history of the Bay through to the architecture of the Senedd and Wales today.
Best of all, tours are free and run daily at 11.00 / 14.00 / 15.00

4. Enjoy a taste of Wales in our café and shop

A day of exploring the Bay calls for a paned (Welsh for ‘cuppa’) and cake in our café. Choose from a range of refreshments and enjoy beautiful views of the Bay through the Senedd’s huge windows. Next to the café is the shop, which stocks Welsh produce, books and gifts.

5. Take in some art

The Senedd will be hosting some great new exhibitions throughout the Summer.

You could create your own postcard from Wales inspired by Steve Knapik MBE’s huge installation and post it in our post box.
Discover some of the history of Cardiff Bay through Jack K Neale’s old black and white images of ships sailing out of Bute Docks, carrying South Wales coal back to France.
Or think about what you’d add to Drawn Together, a national project which invited people to take five minutes to draw something they could see. In total over 4,500 people participated, with drawings received from every county in Wales.

6. The friendliest security in Cardiff

As with any parliamentary building, all visitors are required to go through airport-style security on their way into the Senedd. However, our Security team strive to make a good first impression. Here is a very small selection of the many comments we’ve received about them on Trip Advisor:

“Had to pass through security, but they were the politest I’ve encountered (Heathrow take note)”

“Friendliest government building I have ever visited! Beautiful and interesting building manned by the friendliest staff I’ve ever come across. Even the security guards were a delight ensuring an easy, safe transit into the building.”

“Airport style security performed by some very happy and friendly staff.”

Did we mention we also have a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence?

7. Enjoy the Senedd’s environmental design

Baking hot in Cardiff Bay? The Senedd’s unique design keeps it lovely and cool on summer days. It’s windows actually open and close automatically to help regulate the temperature inside.

8. Help us celebrate 20 years

This year we are celebrating 20 years of the National Assembly for Wales. Share your aspirations for Wales over the next 20 years on our board.

9. We’ve got Lego®, Duplo® and activities for little ones

If you’re feeling inspired after seeing the Bright Bricks dragon, princess and wizard in Mermaid Quay, come along and add your own Lego® creation to our map of Wales. Throughout the holidays we also have colouring and craft available to keep little ones entertained while you enjoy a well-earned sit down.

10. It’s free!

And how much does it cost to access all this, I hear you ask? Nothing. The Senedd is a public building – your building – and we are open 7 days a week. Whether you’re visiting Cardiff for the weekend or you’re a local who’s never ventured inside, head down to the Senedd this summer as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the National Assembly for Wales.

Our First Citizens’ Assembly

On the weekend of 19 – 21 July, 58 of the 60 people selected as being representative of the Welsh population gathered at Gregynog Hall in mid Wales to take part in our first citizens’ assembly. The Assembly Commission decided to hold this citizens’ assembly as part of its 20th Anniversary celebrations.

This citizens’ assembly had two questions to consider:

  • How can people in Wales shape their future?
  • Which devolved areas are working particularly well and which are challenging Wales?

The citizens’ assembly’s participants

Sixty participants, drawn from applicants from 10,000 randomly selected households, were chosen to take part. They were demographically representative of the Welsh population. Roughly 75% had no university degree, 25% had no GCSEs or equivalents, and 60% did not vote in the 2016 National Assembly for Wales (the Assembly) election. Distinguishing this political gathering from any other recallable in the last twenty years in Wales.

The 60 chosen to take part in this event were representative of Wales’ population aged 16 and over in terms of:


  • 16-29 – 23.5% (14-15)
    • 39-44 – 22.4% (13-14)
    • 45-59 – 23.9% (14-15)
    • 60+ – 30.2% (18)

Education level:

  • No qualifications – 25.9% (15-16)
    • Level 1 or 2 – 29% (17-18)
    • Level 3 or Apprenticeship or Other – 20.5% (12-13)
    • Level 4 or above – 24.5% (14-15)


  • 12 people from each of the 5 electoral regions.


  • White – 95.6% (50)
  • BAME – 4.4% (10 – a decision was made to over-represent this category)

Vote in 2016 election

  • Yes – 40.7% (24-25)
    • No or ineligible – 59.3% (35-36)

Welsh language skills (speak, read, write, understand or some combination thereof):

  • Yes – 26.7% (16)
    • No – 73.3% (44)

Gender (self-identified):

  • Male – 51% (30-31)
    • Female – 49 % (29-30)
    • Other – 0% (none selected this category)

The weekend of the citizens’ assembly.

The citizens’ assembly began with participants considering the areas that are devolved to Wales. A panel of speakers delivered background information about the Assembly, its budget, powers and role. Participants were then asked to write down:

Participants reached conclusions on the areas where they felt Wales is doing well on and the areas they saw as posing the biggest challenges.

“I’ve heard a lot of interesting and diverse views around the table – I’d like to see some of these actioned”.

Niz, citizens’ assembly member.

Participants then focused on the primary question this citizens’ assembly was to address, how they – the people of Wales – want to be able to shape their future through the work of the Assembly.

Participants heard from expert speakers who presented evidence to the citizens’ assembly on the ways in which they can already do this and then focused on the additional ways in which people in Wales could be able to do this in the future.

The  functions participants focused on were:

  1. Ways to shape the future by influencing committees’ work.
  2. Ways to shape the future by engaging with the draft budget approval process.
  3. Ways to shape the future by engaging in questioning the Government.
  4. Ways to shape the future by helping to set the Assembly’s agenda (e.g. the petitions process, the Welsh Youth Parliament).

Participant feedback

All participants completed a feedback form at the end of the citizens’ assembly weekend, giving their views on whether or not taking part in the citizens’ assembly had changed their feelings towards participation in decision making more generally.

  • 91% of participants strongly agreed that taking part in this citizens’ assembly made them want to be more involved in other aspects of decision making.
  • 93% of participants strongly agreed that they felt more confident to engage in political decision making as a result of being involved in this citizens’ assembly.

“Coming here now and meeting lots of different people and listening to different opinions was really good – it was a really good weekend.”

Sarah, citizens’ assembly member

The report

A citizens’ assembly report is currently being drafted. The report will consider the following:

1. What participants value most about Wales as it currently is;

2. What participants see as the biggest challenges facing Wales;

3. The pros and cons of each additional way of shaping the future;

4. Participants’ order of preference for innovations in each of the four functions debated, and why;

5. Participants’ order of preference across all of the innovations, and why;

6. Participants’ view on whether or not each innovation should be considered for adoption, and why.

This will provide the Assembly with an excellent understanding of what people in Wales see as the biggest challenges and how people in Wales would like to be able to shape their future through the work of the Assembly.

The aim is to publish the report at a public event at the Gwlad Festival of Politics in late September with the Assembly Commission considering its response in the Autumn term.

The team behind the citizens’ assembly

The evidence and information for participants was compiled by the citizens’ assembly’s expert leads: Professor Graham Smith, Professor of Politics and Director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Westminster and Dr Huw Pritchard, lecturer in law at Cardiff University and member of the Wales Governance Centre; Huw supported by putting together background information for the citizens’ assembly.

Also, the Assembly Commission’s steering group coordinated internal scrutiny and analysis whilst the Hansard Society provided an impartial external critique.

Furthermore, the expert speakers, who are leading academics and practitioners in this field, advised on the comprehensiveness, accuracy and balance of the evidence the assembly was to hear on both current and future opportunities for people in Wales to shape their future. 

The citizens’ assembly guest speakers included the expert leads, along with Dr Alan Renwick, University College London; Dr Diana Stirbu, London Metropolitan University; Dr Clodagh Harris, University College Cork; Professor Cristina Leston-Bandeira, University of Leeds and Rebecca Rumbul, Lead Researcher with My Society.

The Assembly Commission commissioned two leading organisations to deliver the citizens’ assembly event and recruitment. The Sortition Foundation, which delivers stratified, random selection solutions, and the Involve Foundation, the UK’s leading public participation charity.

To find out more about the citizens’ assembly, visit the Devolution20 website.

A Landscape of Creative Talent

Steve Knapik MBE tells us all about his exhibition, ‘A Postcard from Wales’ which is opening at the Senedd on the 27th of July 2019.

I am an artist, but I am also passionate about my work with the Blue Balloon Children’s Charity. Through this charity, many people work hard to improve children’s lives in Wales.  A few years ago, I wanted to help Blue Balloon by organising a huge art project to create a very, very big landscape artwork; so big in fact, that I hoped to break the Guinness World Record for the Longest Continuing Landscape artwork. I knew that this would be a lot of work, so I asked for help from many different people, including primary school pupils, groups supporting people living with dementia, and pupils from schools for those with additional needs. It was important to me to get a range of people involved so that we could make sure that the project was inclusive and welcoming to all.

We worked hard for five years. It took a lot of work to organise everything, but it was worth it when I could see the excitement and enjoyment on everyone’s face. If we were to break the Guinness World Record  we needed at least 30,000 drawings, so there was a lot of work to be done! Each drawing had lines showing where the mountains and sky were, and this meant that the drawings could be joined together to create one large joined artwork. I saw a lot of creative talent and imaginative ways of thinking about our landscapes. For example, some primary school children used blocks of coloured stripes to represent fields.

Everyone was excited about our World Record attempt. Even the Liberty Stadium in Swansea was ready for us to display over 5 miles of original, joined up drawings…

And then, bad news! We discovered that our project couldn’t be registered as a World Record. I felt very sad and disappointed. What was I going to do with all these fantastic drawings? But I was determined not to be defeated. These amazing artworks deserved to be on display. I needed an iconic, important building to show the talent and creativity that I had seen in children all over Wales.

I got in touch with the National Assembly for Wales and I met Alice, who is a curator there. She works with artists to organise exhibitions. Where better for these brilliant artworks than the Senedd, the home of democracy in Wales, where people make important decisions about what happens in our country? Alice and I met a few times to come up with the best solution to display the artwork in the Senedd, and finally we were ready to put the exhibition together for everyone to enjoy.

I feel that the Senedd will be the perfect place to show our artwork, and I am looking forward to getting even more people involved, by encouraging visitors to the Senedd to make postcards to send, and to celebrate a lot of exciting things that are happening at the Assembly this year…

The 20th Anniversary of the National Assembly for Wales.

It was such an honour to be chosen to be part of this important celebration. The National Assembly for Wales was created twenty years ago, and the Senedd is the perfect place for a big celebration. The building is open to the public, and I’m very pleased to ask YOU the public to come in and take part in creating your own, unique landscape to continue the project. I hope you have as much fun as over 30,000 children and adults had before you, taking part in our project.

The Welsh Youth Parliament

In February this year the Welsh Youth Parliament, made of 60 young people aged 11 – 18, met for the first time. We want to help celebrate this wonderful event and stand alongside the 60 members who represent every part of Wales. Each member has a big interest in a part of life that affects young people today. It is so important for our young people to have a voice, and the Youth Parliament work hard to make sure that that voice is heard. Some members of the Youth Parliament even took part in my project when they were at school!

In many ways the motto of the Blue Balloon Children’s charity, ‘Today’s hope for a better tomorrow’ can also be applied to these young people who represent the voices of all young people in Wales –helping to make a difference.

The Arts as part of our Welsh identity.

Wales as a nation has a strong sense of belonging and identity. This is shown in so many ways, especially through the arts. We celebrate Wales as the Land of Song, so music is a strong part of our heritage; but so are poetry, drama and the visual arts. Inspiration comes from many sources. Artists have for many centuries been fascinated by the landscapes of Wales: the mountains, sea and sky.

It is important that we take a close look at our immediate environment, and whilst talking to people young and less young throughout the project, we talked about many issues that are having an effect on where we live. The environment around us can help to start discussion, and we showed our feelings about our environment through our landscape artworks. We must never lose sight of the importance the arts plays in society and how it can be very positive for our wellbeing and sense of who we are.

Neurodiversity in the Workplace

Diversity and Inclusion

Neurodiversity is about recognising that people think about things differently. Most people’s brains work and interpret information similarly, however, others interpret information in different ways. This is just another way of accessing your environment.

Why it’s important that organisations embrace and support neurodiversity in the workplace

Organisations are realising that a diverse set of skills, experiences, perspectives and background fosters innovation. In turn, this can  increase productivity, customers’ needs are better catered for, along with shaping products and services offered.

The National Autistic Society reports that only 16% of adults with autism are in full time work. Many people with autism can work and are enthusiastic to find jobs which reflects their talent and interests. With a little understanding and small adjustments to the workplace, they can be a real asset to businesses across the UK.

What we are doing to attract and retain neurodivergent people

  • We have raised awareness of neurodivergent conditions, such as autism, among colleagues and managers, so that they are best placed to support neurodivergent colleagues in the workplace.
  • We have provided training for line managers on supporting and managing colleagues with autism.
  • We are constantly refining our job descriptions to give candidates a clearer sense of what’s involved in the job role.
  • We have taken steps to update our candidate packs. We are in the process of redesigning our recruitment webpages to ensure we are accessible to all.
  • We are currently reviewing our recruitment processes to maximise inclusion by ensuring our values are aligned with our recruitment.
  • We work with candidates to understand what support, if any, they will need if appointed. This can involve  adjustments to the sensory environment, such as providing quiet spaces to work, assistive software, noise-cancelling headphones, buddying and sensory aids.

 The Assembly Commission is a signatory of the Government’s Disability Confident Campaign – we are a Disability Confident Employer and have also been awarded the National Autism Society Autism Friendly Award.

As an employee at the Assembly Commission with a diagnosis of Autism and ADHD, I feel accepted for who I am, as a person living with these disabilities. The organisation has been very supportive towards my wish to work part-time as this is so suitable for my needs.

It was a great honour to deliver a presentation at a staff training session about autism where I had the chance to talk about my personal experiences in this area. This specialised staff training session greatly helped me and my line manager understand my needs and reasonable adjustments have been carried out as a result.

I look forward to continuing to gain more skills and experience during my employment here and continue to avidly contribute to the day-to-day running of the organisation.”

Assembly Commission employee


Promoting a Family Friendly Workplace

Diversity and Inclusion Week

This week, we are celebrating Diversity and Inclusion. Here at the Assembly, we work tirelessly  towards developing policies and procedures that support our goal of being an inclusive employer, helping us develop an organisational culture where people can be themselves, but also thrive and achieve their potential.

We work with our Workplace Equality Networks (WENs) to ensure that our employees can talk to and be supported by like-minded people. Staff who identify as a protected characteristic can come together and support each other, as well as offer advice on how we can become a more inclusive employer.

We recognise that it is increasingly becoming harder to juggle our day to day lives with our work, and so we are proud to have a range of flexible working arrangements which include flexi-time, part-time working, working from home, job share opportunities and career breaks. Our flexible working arrangements have consistently  earnt us a spot on the Top 30 Family Friendly Employer list.

Our TEULU Network is our working parents and carers WEN and its purpose is to:

  • raise awareness and understanding of needs and barriers to inclusion within the workplace;
  • influence and develop a range of policies, services and training around issues that could affect working parents and carers;
  • promote the rights and participation of working parents and carers in all aspects of the policies, practices and procedures within the Assembly Parliamentary Services;
  • actively contribute to the development and review of relevant policies via equality impact assessments; and
  • gather and promote information on a range of issues pertinent to working parents and carers

My Work Experience Week: Iwan Kellett

My name is Iwan Kellett and I am a sixth form student at Ysgol Syr Thomas Jones, Amlwch. Over the week from the 17th to the 21st of June I had the opportunity to go on work experience to Rhun ap Iorwerth AM’s Constituency Office on Anglesey, and I was here for 3 days a week. For the other two days I went to Rhun ap Iorwerth’s Office in Tŷ Hywel, Cardiff.

On my first day I was in the Constituency Office in Llangefni. Immediately I was surprised to see the variety of work taking place. In the morning we visited a fantastic exhibition at MENCAP Hub showing portraits of users of the Hub. Then back in the office I learned how the office provides support and help constituents. In the afternoon we went to Gors Goch in Llanbedrgoch to learn more about the work of the North Wales Wildlife Trust there. It was amazing to learn that I lived so close to an area that is so important in nature, and never been there before!

For the next two days, I flew down to Cardiff from Valley to go to the office in Tŷ Hywel, Cardiff Bay. There was another man on mentorship called Mo so on arrival we went for a tour of the site and found out more about how the Senedd and Tŷ Hywel work. After arriving back to the office I translated a document for release to the press then immediately we went to visit the BBC which was running an event to discuss broadcasting issues in Wales. Then after lunch I sat and listened to FMQ’s. It has to be said, that I was a little bit starstruck walking around seeing the different Assembly Members. I even got my book signed by Adam Price! Down in Cardiff I also helped to write a speech and go to a note-taking meeting.

For the rest of the week I was back in Llangefni responding to the pains of constituents and trying to help them and writing e-mails to try and help them with a wide range of issues.

The week has been amazing! I’ve learned so many things and the experience really has been great! It has been an eye-opener for all the work that the office does and of course the Assembly Member. Listening to national issues in the chamber and to hear local problems in the constituency office. For anyone thinking of going on work experience to the office, do it! It has been an amazing experience, thanks to Rhun ap Iorwerth and Non ap Gwyn (Office Manager) for a great week.

Look for the sunshine in the rain

Guest post from Bleddyn Harris, Organisational Development and Training Officer  – National Assembly for Wales. Diversity and Inclusion Week.



An arch of colours visible in the sky, caused by the refraction and dispersion of the sun’s light by rain or other water droplets in the atmosphere.

When Gilbert Baker designed the rainbow flag, I wonder if he ever truly understood how – alongside becoming an unapologetically fabulous and auspicious protest against the undue discrimination of love and identity – it perfectly encapsulated the experience of the many LGBTQ individuals who have used it as a shield in a world that doesn’t appear to want them: sunshine and rain, all at once.

When I think about being gay, I often come to the conclusion that it has been the single most painful and healing experience I have endured. Not that being gay is a painful experience, more that it has been the excuse so many have used when they have left me raw and exposed, often, and paradoxically, in the name of ‘love’. It has been a catalyst for people who do not know me, who will never meet me, who will never accept me, who will never love me, to call for me to be made illegal, to erase my history, to want me in jail, to think to beat me up, to stop me from getting married, to want me dead. See, it’s not all unicorns and drag queens, is it?

I don’t quite like to say that being my authentic self is in spite of the kinds of people I have named above because I feel it attributes all of the battles I have had to win with my self-esteem and self-acceptance to a bunch of people who will never care… but, yes, being myself is totally in spite of those people because I want them to know that I won’t let their bigotry get in the way of me living my life full of colour and with a love they seek to deny me.

I know, I know, I’m harping on about the negative aspects of this experience, but it’s only because I think the struggle is often overlooked by the idea that the community, specifically gay men, are a collective group of audacious and colourful people who are happy to be bold and bright and beautiful in their own way, no matter what. There’s never really a discussion about the internal monologues, the struggles, the fear we have when we walk down the street because ‘do I look too gay? Am I walking funny? People are looking: I should stop holding my partner’s hand’.

I feel this struggle, as well as everyone’s entirely personal and different experience of being a part of the LGBTQ community, was summed up in a conversation I had with a friend over dinner: we were talking about an LGBT talk we saw at the Hay Festival that centred on the Stonewall Uprising and the struggles we’ve endured and the successes the community has been given – please note that we have to be given the same right as our heterosexual and cis-gendered counterparts which means they can just as easily be given away. The conversation led to a question of whether we would take a pill to make us straight. I immediately said no without much thought. My friend said yes. He asked me why I would choose to live a life of living on the outskirts of being ‘normal’, a life of constantly looking over your shoulder because you walk/talk a certain way, a life of feeling like you’re only ever tolerated and not truly accepted. I gently reminded him that sometimes you need to look for the sunshine in the rain and know that we are able to live the life so many people before our time died dreaming of: their prayers, strength, and rebellion still protect us.

If you’ve managed to stay with me, I’d like to pay homage to those who came before me that I’ll never be able to meet, that I’ll never be able to thank. Too many of their names and stories have been forgotten. Why? I don’t know. Is it society trying to erase our history? Maybe. Is it society attempting to avoid their guilt by not bringing it up? Possibly. Is this absence of heroes still affecting the lives of millions of LGBTQ individuals who still feel like they don’t belong? Absolutely. Whatever it is, I mourn it. I mourn the history, the pride, the art, and the wisdom that has died with the gay men, the lesbians, the trans and non-binary individuals, people who are bi, the activists, the lovers, the thinkers, the queers, the ones who loved too much, the ones who trusted too much, the ones who made a silly mistake on a night out because they were trying to escape the cruel reality of their world filled with an unfiltered and unneeded hatred. I’m angry at how the lives, loves, and loss of these people are constantly being undermined in countries around the world. I’m angry that I’m still illegal in over 70 countries. I’m angry that there are protests against teaching children about different family dynamics. I’m angry that people are ignoring the fact that LGBTQ individuals are more likely to be affected by mental health issues. I’m angry that people think that our struggle is over because some laws have been changed to protect us.

But would I take a pill to make me straight? Absolutely not.

If I had to do it all over again, I would. I’d go through all the bullying, the rejection, the being told I have a demon inside of me that must be prayed away, being told I should die, being told I’m not worthy, being told that God doesn’t love me, being told I shouldn’t have been born, being told I’ll burn in hell, being asked to leave the church, being spat on nights out, being told I’m not a real man, being told I’d never be happy, because accepting myself and learning, each and every day, to love myself in the face of adversity has been worth it.

I don’t know where I’d be today if I didn’t have the courage to accept myself and allow myself the love to find out who I am: a proud gay man.

It’s for these reasons that I work at the Assembly and pursue an active role within the OutNAW network: with such an openly inclusive and diverse staff, it was important to me to work in a place central to the development of Wales who exhibits the culture we need to make sure no bi voice goes unheard, no trans individual is told they can’t be who they are, that no lesbian teenager is bullied for being herself, that no gay has to think about whether they would take a pill to be straight.

rainbow flag