Programmes to support homeless people on Anglesey must be protected, says AM

Ynys Môn Assembly Member Rhun ap Iorwerth this week asked Welsh Government to maintain the financial support for organisations dealing with and tackling homelessness and said that not doing so would put pressure on some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

During Ministerial Questions in the Assembly this week, Rhun praised the excellent work of organisations on Anglesey such as The Wallich, Digartref Môn and Gorwel.

This followed a visit by Rhun to the Wallich Housing First Project in Llangefni last week, where he learnt more about the work they do and the importance of the Supporting People programme.

Housing First Anglesey helps homeless people to find a permanent home quickly, providing ongoing support to help them settle in and maintain their new home. The project provides an intensive support package to actively address issues in a creative and innovative way.

Shian Thomas, Project Manager for Housing First Anglesey at The Wallich said:

“It has been a pleasure to talk to Rhun ap Iorwerth AM about our work on Anglesey and the benefits of Housing First as a model of support to those experiencing homelessness.

“Anglesey Housing First is the only Housing First project in Wales and we are proud to work with the local authority and landlords across the island to alleviate homelessness and provide housing for some of the most vulnerable in our society.

“Services like ours are key in helping to relieve and prevent homelessness and make sure people receive the right support whilst living independently.”

Anglesey AM Rhun ap Iorwerth said:

“I had a good meeting with The Wallich team in Llangefni about their work tackling homelessness.

“Welsh Government must protect the Supporting People programme. Many of the Wallich’s projects are funded through the programme, and so I was pleased to be able to raise the matter in the Assembly chamber this week.”

In his question to Communities Cabinet Secretary Carl Sargeant, Rhun ap Iorwerth said:

“This month, I met with staff and managers of some of the organisations and charities that do excellent work on Anglesey in tackling and dealing with homelessness, including The Wallich, Digartref Môn, and Gorwel.

“Unfortunately, being asked to do more and more with reducing resources means that they are now reaching a point where it is entirely impossible to achieve, and the threat of a cut to the Supporting People fund from the Welsh Government risks undoing and undermining much of the good work that is and has been done in Anglesey and other parts of Wales.

“Does the Minister recognise that fact and accept that if the Welsh Government doesn’t maintain the financial support for these organisations they will be making a grave error and putting pressure on some of the most vulnerable people in our society?”

Unfortunately, the Cabinet Secretary didn’t give a guarantee about the Supporting People programme but said that he had listened to concerns ahead of the announcement on the draft budget on October 3rd.

Pictured: Rhun ap Iorwerth with Shian Thomas, Anglesey Project Manager and Sophie Haworth-Booth, North Wales Area Manager

Plaid: Forty doctors a year could be trained in Bangor

Plaid Cymru proposes way forward after Welsh Government rules out north Wales medicine course

Plaid Cymru has proposed a way forward to strengthen NHS services in north Wales after the Welsh Government rejected step towards establishing a Medical School in Bangor. The party’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care Rhun ap Iorwerth has proposed that a joint training campus could be established between Cardiff, Swansea and Bangor Universities, with forty students per year based in Bangor.

Rhun ap Iorwerth said that whilst a new Medical School cannot be built overnight, Plaid Cymru’s proposal would begin the process of training undergraduates in Bangor.

Plaid Cymru Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care Rhun ap Iorwerth said:

“The Welsh Government’s decision to dismiss the development of medical training in Bangor was a huge disappointment to people in north Wales and a blow to NHS workers in north Wales who are currently overburdened because of the government’s inadequate workforce planning.

“It isn’t just Plaid Cymru who want this – the experts have called for it, NHS workers want it, and a recent report from the National Assembly’s Health Committee called for it.

“It’s important that we anchor students in north Wales. By aiming to have more and more undergraduates based here we can strengthen NHS services across the region. We could also develop expertise in rural medicine, and train doctors to provide services through Welsh.

“Plaid Cymru will continue to work towards eventually establishing an independent medical school in Bangor, but our proposals give us a way forward to achieving the goal of providing strong and sustainable hospital services across north Wales.”

New strategy needed to connect with Welsh expats

In a speech on the National Eisteddfod field in Ynys Môn, the local Assembly Member has called for a clear strategy from Welsh Government to connect with the Welsh Diaspora. He said that Wales could benefit greatly from strengthening its relations with the Welsh overseas, or those from a Welsh Background who live in foreign countries and said that we need to “persuade them – even from afar – to contribute to the future and to the development of our nation”.

Whilst delivering the Wales International annual speech, the AM, who chairs the Cross-Party Group, Wales International, in the Assembly, said:

“Wales has been generous with her exports, her coal, slate and iron have left their mark on the four cornerns of the world, but the exports we can still benefit from them are our people.”

He compared Wales’ situation to that of Ireland and Scotland, who have clear strategies on connecting with their diaspora. Since 2014, the Irish Government have a Minister responsible for developing the relationship with the Irish abroad. The Scottish Government have held two ‘Homecoming Scotland’ projects to persuade members of the Scottish diaspora to reconnect with their homeland.

Rhun ap Iorwerth said that Welsh Government is trying in a number of different ways to build foriegn connections, including with the Welsh diaspora, but according to Ynys Môn’s AM, a clear strategy is needed to tie everything together and to set clear goals:

“We need our own Homecoming Scotland, we need our own Diaspora Minister as they have in Ireland. We need to take this seriously, to show beyond any doubt that we see this as a priority.”

Welcome consultation to lower voting age to 16

Ynys Môn Assembly Member Rhun ap Iorwerth has welcomed the decision to consult on giving young people from the age of 16 the right to vote in local elections. It is part of a Welsh Government consultation document that includes many changes to the current electorate system such.
 
Anglesey AM Rhun ap Iorwerth stated:
 
“I am a strong believer in lowering the voting age to 16, and it is something that Plaid Cymru has campaigned for for years. It is important that young people see that there is a place for them in Welsh democracy. By lowering the voting age, we’re opening the door of democracy wider to a new generation of voters. I hope that young people will take advantage of the opportunity to be able to vote to change things in the political world.”
 
Elin Lloyd Griffiths, a 17 year old student at Ysgol David Hughes who is currently on work experience with Rhun added:
 
“I am very happy to see that the Government will consider lowering the voting age to 16 years old in local elections. As a 17 year old myself, it has been very frustrating not being able to use my vote due to my age especially as politics has been evolving and changing rapidly in the past year in particular. However, the fact that the Welsh Government is aware of the young person’s voice is extremely significant, and I hope that this will only be the beginning of the journey to ensure that the young person’s voice is heard loud and clear.”

Latest Labour setback for north Wales: No medical school for Bangor

The Labour government has today announced that it will not proceed with plans to establish a medical school in north Wales. Plaid Cymru AMs have voiced their disappointment after the decision, which the Welsh Government tried to bury on the last week of term.

Plaid Cymru Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care Rhun ap Iorwerth said that having students spend more time in north Wales will not take the place of establishing a medical school.

Arfon AM Sian Gwenllian branded it a betrayal of north Wales.

Plaid Cymru Arfon AM Sian Gwenllian said:

“The need for a medical school in Bangor is clear, and the Welsh Government has itself acknowledged this. The Welsh Government has tried to bury its bombshell for medical students and patients in north Wales in the last day of government business.

“This is a betrayal of the people of Bangor, Arfon and of north Wales. Plaid Cymru will continue to campaign for the creation of the north Wales medical school. It is an important step in developing a safe and sustainable health service in north Wales, and in developing specialist services outside of the M4 corridor.”

Plaid Cymru Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care Rhun ap Iorwerth said:

“We know that a medical school can’t be set up overnight, but this announcement is a serious setback. We’ve always advocated a collaborative approach to get things off the ground, and saying that students “will spend more time in north Wales” just isn’t good enough. We need students based in the north, our NHS needs them, and we’ve got to get the ball rolling. This Labour government clearly has no ambition.”

Plaid Cymru Arfon MP Hywel Williams said:

“I’m shocked and angered by this announcement. It has always understood from the very beginning that setting up a medical school for Bangor was the Welsh Government’s intention and previous Welsh Health Ministers have stated to me and others that Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board was a University Health Board because a medical school would be set up in partnership with the university in Bangor.”

Anglesey’s hidden gem – RSPB Cors Ddyga

A former working colliery, bursting with spectacular wildlife and rare plants, has just embarked on a new chapter in its history…

RSPB Cymru is delighted to announce that their quiet nature reserve on Anglesey, RSPB Cors Ddyga, formerly named as ‘Malltraeth Marsh’, will be officially opened by Ynys Môn Assembly Member Rhun ap Iorwerth at 1pm on July 17, 2017.

The marshland reserve was awarded funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Gaynor Cemlyn-Jones Trust earlier this year, to improve and preserve the habitat and rare species on the reserve. The project has also been supported by the Sustainable Development Fund, a Welsh Government initiative in the Isle of Anglesey Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Thanks to the recent funding the reserve has benefited in three areas:

1. New interpretation and a two kilometre visitor trail has been built through the wetlands.
2. The RSPB Cors Ddyga team have put in sluices to improve the reedbeds. These will capture more water to keep the existing reedbeds wet, whilst also increasing water levels in other areas to create new reedbeds.
3. Local sculptor, Duncan Kitson has been commissioned to create a wooden bittern sculpture to mark the reserves’ recent celebration when the bittern nested at RSPB Cors Ddyga – the first time in Wales for 32 years.

RSPB Cors Ddyga Site Manager, Ian Hawkins said: “This is the perfect place to spend a couple of hours and have a break from the outside world. It is alive with history and we are delighted to be opening our doors to the public in order to show the fruits of labor since when we started to manage the reserve back in 1994. This proves if you build a home for nature, they will come!”

Rhun ap Iorwerth AM said, “It will be a pleasure to officially open Cors Ddyga so that local residents and visitors can come to appreciate the wonders of the wetlands.  Sites such as Cors Ddyga are one of out natural treasures, and I’m grateful to the RSPC for their conservation work on the site.  One of the big successes of that hard work was that the Bittern chose to nest there last year – the first time it has been recorded nesting in Wales for three decades – and I look forward to hearing Ysgol Esceifiog pupils singing a song dedicated to the bittern, ‘Deryn y Bwn’”

Ian Hawkins added, “The generous funding we have received has made it possible for RSPB Cors Ddyga to embark on a new chapter in its history helping its development to ensure that the plants and wildlife continue to have new areas to colonise.

Each season brings its own wealth of wildlife. Beautiful wetland flowers appear in the spring: the yellow iris, water-violet and the rare pillwort whilst in winter you can see hen harriers, peregrines and merlins – their all a delight to see. I often get surprises walking around the reserve, from seeing otters popping their heads above the water to that special moment when I realised a bittern had nested on the reserve – I’m still smiling. Who knows what I’ll spot tomorrow.”

The reserve offers some fantastic new volunteering experiences for the local community and the chance to discover the site’s local heritage; through practical work, heritage skills and research opportunities. If you’re interested in volunteering with us, please get in touch with RSPB Cymru Community and Volunteer Development Officer, Eva Vazquez-Garcia, on 01248 672850/ eva.vazquezgarcia@rspb.org.uk.

So make sure you put RSPB Cors Ddyga on your ‘places to visit’ list this summer…..

Anglesey School Senedd visit sparks question to First Minister!

A conversation with pupils from two schools in Anglesey at the Assembly today prompted a question by their local AM Rhun ap Iorwerth to the First Minister during FMQs.

Rhun met with pupils from Ysgol y Borth, Menai Bridge, Ysgol Corn Hir, Llangefni, and Ysgol Parc y Bont, Llanddaniel, in the Assembly today and had the chance to answer their questions on a range of topics. He said:

“I had fantastic questions from the schools today – asking what inspired me to become an Assembly Member, what I would most like to see changed in Wales and what the latest Assembly discussion had been about, and much more.

“We also discussed modern foreign languages, and the pupils told me they thought it was important to teach foreign languages at school. I therefore passed that message on to the First Minister in the Senedd this afternoon.”

Speaking during First Minister’s Questions in the Assembly today, Rhun ap Iorwerth asked:

“It’s been a pleasure to welcome pupils from three primary schools from Anglesey to the Assembly today: Ysgol y Borth; Ysgol Corn Hir, Llangefni and Parc y Bont in Llanddaniel, and I was discussing learning additional languages with pupils from Parc y Bont and Corn Hir, and the pupils from Corn Hir are already being given French lessons on a weekly basis.

“As bilingual pupils, they were very eager to see opportunities to push their linguistic boundaries, but, of course, the evidence tells us that there has been a great decline in the number of pupils learning a modern foreign language in secondary schools in Wales. The latest report from the British Council on language trends in Wales shows a decline of almost 50 per cent in terms of the pupils taking a GCSE and A-level now in a modern foreign language as compared to the situation 15 years ago.

“A series of Labour Education Ministers has failed to prevent that slide. Does the First Minister now agree with the latest demand of the cross-party group, Wales International, for the talk of an ambition of creating a Bilingual Wales ‘plus 1’ should turn now to action, particularly in the context of the fact that the new curriculum is in the pipeline?”

AM makes case for strengthening Broadband provision in Anglesey

Ynys Môn Assembly Member Rhun ap Iorwerth last week hosted a visit from the Minister for Skills and Science, the Welsh Government Minister responsible for broadband, to Anglesey.

During her visit, he took her to Mona Industrial Park and to a community in Llangoed so that she would have a snapshot of the problems faced by businesses and by individuals and communities on the island.

Prior to the visit, Rhun had invited constituents to share their experience of broadband and was able to collect the information together in a paper to present to the Minister.

Môn AM Rhun ap Iorwerth said:

“A fast data connection is not a ‘luxury’ these days. From education to tele-medicine, from business to leisure, our need for a broadband connection is an integral part of our everyday lives, and being rural should not be a reason for failing to get this connection. Rural areas expect, and receive, water and electricity. In the 21st century, we should have similar expectations in terms of data connectivity. Ynys Môn may be rural, but it’s not remote!”

“I would like to see a one-stop shop for practical help and support for those without and acceptable connection. At the moment, if there are alternative solutions available, people often aren’t aware of what those solutions are, nor who to turn to to ask the question even, and it’s not obvious what help could be available.

“I also want to see clarity for those who are unable to get a clear timetable for connection to their property through the Superfast Cymru programme (or similar) – including a clear statement if it’s NOT possible to connect, and for financial support aimed at those that are unable to get a ‘traditional’ connection, including developments on a community-wide level.”

“During her visit, I was able to make the case to the Minister for strengthening broadband for people in Anglesey. The Minister agreed to look at what can be done – for example, we agreed that I would host a Business Forum with the government’s connectivity team so that local businesses could find out what Welsh Government can do to help them.”

AMs support Marie Curie’s Blooming Great Tea Party

The charity’s summer campaign takes place this month

AMs have joined Marie Curie staff to support the Blooming Great Tea Party in aid of the terminal illness charity this June.

The Blooming Great Tea Party, which runs from 23rd – 25th June, sees people get together with friends, family or colleagues to host a tea party, bake sale or special tea break to raise funds for Marie Curie. The money raised will help Marie Curie provide vital care and support for people living with a terminal illness, and their families.

To help highlight the charity and how the Blooming Great Tea Party can help fund Marie Curie care and support, Ynys Môn AM Rhun ap Iorwerth attended an event at the Senedd in support of the summer campaign.

Rhun said: “Holding a Blooming Great Tea Party really is a piece of cake. You can choose to make everything yourself or pop to the shops for some tasty treats, as long as you price each slice or put a donation box by the front door you’ll be sure to raise funds to help Marie Curie support people when they need it most.”

This year, TV host Mel Giedroyc is lending her support to the campaign, saying: “I’m supporting the Blooming Great Tea Party because it is the most sublimely joyous, wondrous event that takes place in June for the best cause. My top tip would be to invite more people than you can possibly fit into your house.  They will squeeze, don’t worry.  For cake, people will do anything.”

“I will bake some refrigerator cake. My mum’s recipe – it’s delicious. I’ll bake some bread and I will bake for my gluten/dairy intolerant friend some coeliac muffins.”

This year Blooming Great Tea Party will also be supported by John Lewis – the first time the campaign has been supported on this scale by a retailer. John Lewis shops nationwide have been getting involved with a launch earlier this month and partner tea parties during the official weekend.

Emma Marchant, Sustainable Communities Manager at John Lewis, says: “We’re really proud to be working with Marie Curie on their Blooming Great Tea Party campaign this year and I know our shops up and down the country are really excited to be a part of this great cause. They can’t wait to hold their own Blooming Great Tea Party so that customers can come along, buy some cake and learn about how they too can support Marie Curie and the fantastic Blooming Great Tea Party campaign.”

Last year, the Blooming Great Tea Party raised over £500,000 to help Marie Curie be there when it matters most.

To find out more and receive your free fundraising pack, call 0800 716 146 or visit www.mariecurie.org.uk/teaparty.

AM praises ‘world first’ happening in Holyhead

Ynys Môn Assembly Member Rhun ap Iorwerth visited Minesto on Friday to see the progress that is being made with the project.
 
The office in the middle of Holyhead has now opened its doors since Wednesday and employs a number of local people.  The hope is that the first ‘kite’ will be put in the water in September, although the exact date depends on the weather and tide.
 
Speaking after his visit, Rhun said:
 
“It’s great to see the vision coming closer and closer to reality. Seeing the equipment being prepared for its launch into Holyhead Deep in September should make us all proud here on Anglesey.
 
“Already, the number of employees – almost all local – is steadily growing, and businesses such as Holyhead Boatyard are becoming key components of the Minesto project.
 
“This is a world first – and it’s happening right here. The potential for us in terms of jobs and other economic benefits are enormous, and I wish the Minesto team all the very best.”