Author: Aphrael Spindloe

Outside In: Celebrating Human Rights through the Arts

“An emotional roller coaster of an event,”

That’s how the dramatic event at the Temple of Peace on 18th May, in partnership with the Josef Herman Arts Foundation, was described.  The Dragons Heart and Dragons Soul performance through music and dance, powerfully depicting the persecution of people with learning disabilities under the Nazi regime, brought many to tears. The Oasis Choir and Drummers, comprising performers from the local community and asylum seekers, performed songs that had been written by members – some haunting, some to lift the spirits. Oscar Castellino (accompanied by Gareth Llyr Simon) gave a wonderful taster for the Welsh National Opera’s forthcoming Freedom season.  WCIA is proud to be partnering with the WNO in some of the events surrounding the opera productions in the Freedom Season, so do come along.

Refugees from Iran, Syria, Congo and Cameroun told emotional stories about the loss of human rights through persecution because of their language, political views or because they dared to speak out.  Cardiff based poet, Ali Goolyad, gave a beautiful demonstration of why Somalia is called the country of poets, by performing some of his own work.

Participants were sustained by a tasty lunch generously sponsored by Unite. Everyone was given the chance to think about how they can join in campaigning to protect human rights through an interactive Changemakers session led by Jane Harries of WCIA.

Josef Herman, an artist and Jewish refugee from Poland, found a home and inspiration in Ystradgynlais. A film by local school children, depicting his emotional story of loss and finding a new home was shown. His son, David Herman, spoke powerfully about the importance of continuing to uphold human rights.

The musical finale was communal singing, guided by Frankie Armstrong, and a mass drumming session. Suggestion for ending. “It was a most memorable day.  We ended on a high note of hope, reflecting the key message of one of the asylum seekers’ songs: ‘Never Give Up’. “

The “Ripple effect”: social action and the new curriculum

Our Chief Executive Susie-Ventris-Field has written an article on the new curriculum in Wales which presents a focus on how social action can help to deliver the ambitions of the new school curriculum. This can be see through participation in global citizenship schemes like Peace Schools, Changemakers, Eco Schools, Rights Respecting Schools, and getting involved in international partnerships.

If you want to find out more the article can be found here

GLOBAL CLIMATE STRIKE: Students are skipping school to save their future

By Morgane Dirion 

Disclaimer: The blogs on this site are written by our volunteers and guest writers. They do not reflect the views of the WCIA. We hope that sharing a range of views will encourage discussion and debate. Please get in touch if you wish to contribute a blog. Blogs are published in the language the volunteer has chosen to write in (whether that is Welsh or English) and we welcome submissions in both languages. 



What we stand for is what we stand on, read their signs. When 300 000 German students, 10 000 Londoners, 150 000 Montrealians or thousands in Chile, Colombia, Croatia and South Africa marched down their streets on 15th March to protest against the inaction of their governments regarding the current climate crisis, it was clear they were standing up.

It was clear that the 1.4 million young people that skipped school in the 123 countries were united to make sure that, as the kids were shouting, our future won’t burn. They decided to make a change. They were not ready to give up on their future and they proved it by managing to form one of the largest environmental protests in history.Image by Robert Melen 

“The climate strike is a wake-up call to our own generation. And it is the start of a network that will solve the greatest challenge in human history,” reads the Climate Strike Facebook page. And that is the goal of the movement, inspired by the 16 year old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who first skipped school in August 2018 to strike in front of the Swedish Parliament building. Yesterday she was a student skipping school every Friday, today she is nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Thunberg is the face of this new Green Revolution we are witnessing today.

This Earth Strike, as the 15th March protest was called, already took place on 15th February when, for instance, more than 10 000 students across the UK went on strike. Hoping another action a month later would make the movement grow and reach out even more globally, they decided to repeat the experience on 15 March. And it worked. In Wales, for instance, only Cardiff went on strike in February. In the March protest, other cities decided to follow its lead such as Aberystwyth and Swansea.

In the UK, Fridays4Future became the Youth Strike 4 Climate, hosted by UK Student Climate Network. This is a student-led organization for those under 18 funded only by donors and volunteers. The demands are as follows :

  • That the government act on the climate emergency,
  • Reform national curricula to make the ecological crisis an educational priority
  • To communicate on the severity of crisis and the necessity to act now and finally
  • Lower the voting age to 16.

A third march is planned on 12th April. If you want to make a difference, find out more about the event on facebook here and make sure to bring your sign and march down your streets this friday!


Featured image of ‘This turtle against climate change – Melbourne rally for Climate Action’ by Takver:

Size of Wales and WCIA launch new and expanded climate change schools programme: MockCOP

Size of Wales and WCIA are pleased to announce that they will be growing their celebrated MockCOP programme this year. Events will be held across Wales, culminating with a final event at the Senedd in Cardiff in November 2019.

The expansion of the programme has been made possible by the kind support of the ScottishPower Foundation.

What is MockCOP?
Size of Wales and WCIA have been running MockCOP since 2015. MockCOP is an event modelled on the UN’s Conference of the Parties (COP) where representatives from all countries meet to negotiate resolutions to tackle climate change. Groups of 3 students aged 14-18 years old from across Wales are each given a nation to represent. They research and prepare their position, then represent their allocated nation presenting their case, aiming to negotiate an agreement with the other nations. In 2018, the programme was voted Highly Commended in the Sustainability Academy Wales Awards.

How is the programme expanding?
Previously, there has only been one event each year, held in Cardiff. Now, thanks to the support of the ScottishPower Foundation, there will be several of regional MockCOP events across Wales, culminating in a final event in Cardiff in the Debating Chamber of National Assembly, Wales.

“We are delighted to be running a much bigger version of our MockCOP programme this year in partnership with WCIA and with the kind support of the ScottishPower Foundation. The programme provides young people with the opportunity to step into the shoes of other nations, think about climate change from multiple perspectives as well as develop their public speaking and debating skills.” Size of Wales Director, Elspeth Jones said.

As part of the programme Size of Wales will be looking to develop and support young climate change champions across Wales.

Ann McKechin, Trustee and Executive Officer of the ScottishPower Foundation said: “The next generation are leading the fight against climate change throughout our country. That is why the Foundation is pleased to support this exciting programme that brings young people together from all parts of Wales to debate on how to meet the challenges that will impact on their future while understanding different perspectives from around the globe.”

How can schools get involved?
The regional events will run in July and September 2019. Please click here to see the list of dates and events and to register your schools’ participation. More regional dates will be announced. The final will be held in Cardiff in November. We are aiming to work with 80 secondary schools and nearly 250 pupils will participate with the programme this year. All events are free to join.

WCIA’s CEO, Susie Ventris-Field said: “Mock COP is a fantastic opportunity that builds learners’ skills, knowledge and confidence so they can act on the crucial topic of climate change, and this funding means we can reach more young people across Wales. As well as aligning fantastically with the new curriculum in developing ethical informed citizens, it is also very timely as young people strike to persuade our leaders to address climate change.”


Wales in a Post-Brexit World

At a well-attended event hosted by WCIA and Welsh Governance Centre in the Temple of Peace on 27th March, International Relations and Welsh Language Minister, Eluned Morgan was joined by a panel of experts to talk about possibilities for Wales on the international stage going forward. In her opening remarks, WCIA CEO Susie Ventris-Field, stated that “Even though we have a panel of experts, one thing is certain, no one knows what the outcome of the current political situation will be. However, the WCIA vision where everyone contributes to creating a fairer and more peaceful world fells more important than ever.”


Panelist included

Dr Christopher Huggins, Politics lecturer, University of Suffolk

Dr Rachel Minto, Wales Governance Centre, Cardiff University

Prof Kevin Morgan, Professor of Governance and Development, Cardiff University

Dr Elin Royles, Politics lecturer, Aberystwyth University

There were varying degrees of pessimism as the panelist outlined the challenges for Welsh Government and third sector will face in accessing networks and institutions that currently are accessed through the EU. Prof Morgan indicated some of the key networks and institutions in Europe that it will be vital that the UK should “pay to play” in the future, there by enabling ongoing international cooperation and access to opportunities for research, study and business.  Dr Minto highlighted the problems of lack of resources that will in future hinder the international participation of welsh civil society. According to Dr Royles, Wales will have to use more of its “soft” power through sport, culture and art to gain influence in the world.  This was echoed by the Minister, as she also highlighted some of the examples where Wales is doing ground breaking work, such as the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act which could be shared globally. The Minister said, Brexit negotiations have caused huge damage to the reputation of the UK internationally amongst our closest allies and neighbours and will take decades to repair. Sir Emyr Parry-Jones, (former UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations) responded to the panelists urging the Welsh Government should not rely on the UK government to speak on the international stage for Wales (or other devolved parts of the UK) because the communication relies on personal contacts with Westminster ministers rather than statutory instruments.

As an example of the concern of Welsh people for global issues, £180.75 was collected for the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal for the victims of Cyclone Idai.