Author: Bethan Marsh

Gemma, Hong Kong : Stories of Solidarity during COVID-19

At the WCIA, we understand that the outbreak of COVID-19 is difficult for so many people across the world. In uncertain times like these, it is heartwarming to see communities uniting in solidarity, and even song in some cases.We are reaching out to people worldwide to share global perspectives on COVID-19, recognising the global nature of the issue, and some of the similarities and differences of experiences in different countries. We want to identify and share the positive stories emerging from the situation as a source of inspiration for people in these challenging times.

 

Click here to view our Global Perspectives map sharing solidarity stories from all over the world 

 

Gemma in Hong Kong shares her experiences

“So in Hong Kong we have been dealing with the virus for quite a while now. It really started to affect people at Chinese New Year (24th Jan). All universities, schools and learning centres have been closed since then. Offices went straight into work from home and were opened a few weeks later once visitor numbers had been slowed by shutting certain entry points to HK.

“There was one week of panic buying which kind of coincided with the end of CNY. The shelves were a bit empty already, it’s kinda of like the Christmas panic in the UK because it’s the one time of the year everything closes over CNY.

“Some positives are the community spirit here is strong.”

 

“Given that HK was hit hard and was the epicentre of SARS in 2003 I think this has helped to be very prepared. There was a new government department, the CHP, set up after SARS and they had plans ready to put in place should something similar happen again, hence being ready for this corona virus.

“There is a level of normality that has been reached now. Shops are open, restaurants too. Pretty much 99% of people wear masks in the streets. It’s more of social convention than actual protection. All lift buttons, hand rails and train carriages are disinfected every few hours. Your temperature is taken in most places you enter.

 

“Pretty much 99% of people wear masks in the streets”

 

“Some positives are the community spirit here is strong. When panic buying started there was a big drive to get supplies to charities. Lots of small businesses are being supported with some companies offering free advertising for them. The outlying islands, parks, beaches and hiking trails are busy! The air feels fresher and less polluted too!”

hi

Beluil, Eritrea: Global perspectives – Stories of solidarity during COVID-19

Global perspectives: Stories of solidarity during COVID-19

At the WCIA, we understand that the outbreak of COVID-19 is difficult for so many people across the world. In uncertain times like these, it is heartwarming to see communities uniting in solidarity, and even song in some cases.We are reaching out to people worldwide to share global perspectives on COVID-19, recognising the global nature of the issue, and some of the similarities and differences of experiences in different countries. We want to identify and share the positive stories emerging from the situation as a source of inspiration for people in these challenging times.

Click here to view our Global Perspectives map sharing solidarity stories from all over the world 

 

Beluil from Asmara in Eritrea

“There are no cases identified but way before when people first heard about it, everyone who came through the airport had their temperatures tested.

“People who had temperatures were quarantined for two weeks. The government are telling people to travel as little as possible. People are worried and praying for the whole world. People are scared but they have faith in God.

“There is also faith in the government because they have had success in other health measures (reduction in malaria, lower child deaths).”

 

 

 

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Emma, New Zealand: Stories of solidarity during COVID-19

Global perspectives: Stories of solidarity during COVID-19

At the WCIA, we understand that the outbreak of COVID-19 is difficult for so many people across the world. In uncertain times like these, it is heartwarming to see communities uniting in solidarity, and even song in some cases.We are reaching out to people worldwide to share global perspectives on COVID-1, recognising the global nature of the issue, and some of the similarities and differences of experiences in different countries. We want to identify and share the positive stories emerging from the situation as a source of inspiration for people in these challenging times.

Click here to view our Global Perspectives map sharing solidarity stories from all over the world 

 

Emma from New Zealand

“As of 19 March, there are 28 confirmed cases in New Zealand. All cases are in people who have just come from overseas or a couple of cases have been immediate family members of these people.

“There is no ‘community transmission’ of the virus here yet, though it likely only a matter of time before that occurs. The plan is to try and ‘flatten the curve’ to reduce the impact on the health system to a level it can handle. All travellers arriving to NZ from overseas, with the exception of the few of the Pacific Islands where there are no cases yet, are required to self-isolate for two weeks.

“The plan is to try and ‘flatten the curve’ to reduce the impact on the health system”

But, what if people don’t? The government is being quite hard line on this. Yesterday two tourists were actually arrested and I believe they will be deported as they arrived in the country and just intended to carry on their travels and had no plans for self-isolation.

“Everyone here is generally quite calm, but getting a bit worried about the prospect of everyone being in lockdown. There has been a run on supplies with some supermarkets experiencing shortages, however there were buying limits on some items (e.g. toilet paper, baby formula)

“If people are well, they are out and about, but a lot hand sanitiser is being used and with the limited contact, people are greeting each other with elbow bumps or the ‘east coast wave’. Here is Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern demonstrating the wave 

“Everyone here is generally quite calm, but getting a bit worried about the prospect of everyone being in lockdown”

“At the moment I feel like everything is being handled well. If we can all rely on each other to think of others, I think we will be ok.

“My take on this is that when people start to think purely of themselves, that’s when things turn to pot.”

 

 

Would you like to share your story of the situation/ challenges facing your country?

We are asking anyone willing to share to answer the following questions and send to – bethanmarsh@wcia.org.uk 

  • What is the situation like in your country?
  • What are some of the main challenges for people?
  • Are there any positive stories coming out of this situation that can be inspiration for others?  
hi

Jim, Andalusia (Spain) -Global Perspectives: Stories of Solidarity during COVID-19

Global perspectives: Stories of solidarity during COVID-19

At the WCIA, we understand that the outbreak of COVID-19 is difficult for so many people across the world. In uncertain times like these, it is heartwarming to see communities uniting in solidarity, and even song in some cases. We are reaching out to people worldwide to share global perspectives on COVID-1, recognising the global nature of the issue, and some of the similarities and differences of experiences in different countries. We want to identify and share the positive stories emerging from the situation as a source of inspiration for people in these challenging times.

Click here to view our Global Perspectives map sharing solidarity stories from all over the world 

 

First, this is Jim:

Jim Blythe is from the UK, but is currently staying in Andalusia, Spain until it is safe to return.

“I am still locked down in Andalusia, sunny today but a bit of a breeze so not sunbathing weather but better than the UK, which helps. However, that’s not what I really wanted to say.

“People here are staying very calm, and just getting on with whatever they can do. My neighbour Miguel is continuing to tunnel through the rock so they can convert their stable to a living room, I hope he doesn’t undermine the foundations. Lute and Gines continue going out to their fields. The fishmonger still comes round in his van (food deliveries are allowed). The village Tannoy system played its lively tune yesterday for an announcement from the Town Hall, but it was only wishing everybody good luck on the lockdown, try to be patient.

“People here are staying very calm, and just getting on with whatever they can do”

“I baked some bread for my neighbours Gines and Moni, and also for our elderly neighbour Aurelia. They brought me some fresh eggs from their chickens, and some lettuce and home-made goats cheese. And a bottle of wine, again home-made (Gines owes me, I went harvesting the grapes with him last year, and Sue trod them).

“We’re allowed to go to the shop, so I went today and got a few bits and pieces and some whisky (hurrah, I was running low). No panic buying at all. The staff in our little village shop were wearing gloves and face masks, and they were only allowing six people in at a time. The atmosphere was a bit serious – usually it’s all gossip in there, but not today, so I cracked a couple of jokes with the young lady on the till which broke the tension a bit. I asked Aurelia if she needed anything, but she was fine – Moni has been doing some shopping for her.

“Not normal, but also not at all panicky. Blitz spirit”

“On the way back I had a brief chat with another neighbour (Carmen) who was standing in her doorway getting a bit of fresh air. Otherwise the village is dead – no cars, no old blokes hanging around for the bar to open, nobody on the plaza, nobody standing around yakking. So not normal, but also not at all panicky. Blitz spirit.”

 

 

Would you like to share your story of the situation/ challenges facing your country?

We are asking anyone willing to share to answer the following questions and send to – bethanmarsh@wcia.org.uk 

  • What is the situation like in your country?
  • What are some of the main challenges for people?
  • Are there any positive stories coming out of this situation that can be inspiration for others?  

 

 

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Update: Important information about upcoming events at the Temple of Peace

 

We are following Welsh Government and official Public Health Wales guidelines and as the Government is now recommending non-essential contact; the team have decided to work from home.

If you have a non-essential event at the Temple of Peace coming up soon, please get in touch with the Venue Team so we can reschedule with you.

We have a cancellation policy for events at the Temple and we are being flexible where we can as we understand these are exceptional circumstances.

 

For international volunteers on our UNA Exchange programmes, the advice is as follows:

“We ask the volunteers to make sure that their travel is compatible with the most recent recommendations of health authorities with regards to the spread of the Corona virus. In case you are travelling from or recently travelled through a higher risk area, please check the health recommendations of the country where the project takes place, as restrictions may apply (e.g. ban, quarantine, isolation). We will take the necessary health precautions for our projects, but please contact your sending organisation to get more information in case you have any concerns.”

 

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Our response to Wales’ first International Strategy

On Tuesday January 14, the International Relations Minister Eluned Morgan launched Wales’ first International Strategy.

The aim of the strategy is to promote the country as an outward-looking nation ready to work and trade with the rest of the world.

Our CEO Susie Ventris-Field has issued the following statement:

“At the WCIA, we are pleased to see a commitment to a globally responsible Wales as one of the three main priorities of the strategy.

“A strength of the new strategy is its clear messages about Wales as a welcoming nation to people from all backgrounds, countries and cultures, including those seeking sanctuary.

“The commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and human rights in the values are important and we can see this reflected in other parts of the strategy, for example, in relation to the promotion of Wales as a Fair Trade Nation and Nation of Sanctuary.

“It is also promising to see the connections made between the innovative new Curriculum for Wales and the delivery of this strategy.

“The next steps for us will be to scrutinise the strategy in more detail with our partners in the sector to ensure the commitment to global responsibility is reflected throughout, and we’ll also be paying close attention to the implementation of the strategy.

“For example, we will want to see a focus on the three chosen industries support our responsibilities to the rest of the world, for example, in reducing our emissions, eliminating poor labour practices from our supply chains, and a commitment to cooperation and peace.

“We’ll also want to understand in more detail how the Welsh Government will build on the existing strengths of the Wales Africa programme.”

In December last year, we worked with partners across the International Sector to provide feedback about the draft.

You can read our collective response here 

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Barry school pupils take first place at 2019 Wales Schools Debating Championships

Vale pupils outshone their opponents to take first place at this year’s Wales Schools Debating Championships.

On Monday 16 December, Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg pupils Sara Jones and Rhys Griffiths were crowned the 2019 winning team at Tredegar House, Newport.

The winner of this year’s Individual speaker award went to Amelia Furlong from Cardinal Newman RC School, for her motion on; this house would ban plastics from 2025.

This year’s runner up Individual award went to Alice Kember from Howells Schools. This is the 18th and final year of the Wales Schools Debating Championship, which has involved up to 60 schools competing each year.

 

Topics debated on the day included democracy, mental health issues, democracy and justice.

CEO of the WCIA and debating final judge, Susie Ventris –Field

said: “As always with this competition, I feel inspired listening to young people set out arguments on difficult topics and often having to argue a view that is not their own.

“It is great to see them develop empathy, public speaking skills and critical thinking. These are such essential life skills and it had re our determination to find funding for the future”

The WCIA team would like to thank Tredegar House for hosting and The Hodge Foundation for their support over the years.

A judge in the final and Head of BBC Radio Cymru, Colin Paterson, said: “I took part in schools that argued when I was younger, and it has given me a lot of skills to do the job that I do now, as I had not taken an academic route.

“You can see that this competition gives people the confidence to debate, to rebut, how to formulate and express arguments and I think using these skills is extremely important. “

 

Read more about our Debating Championships HERE 
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Pontypridd General Election candidates Q&A continued

Earlier this month, we held a General Election hustings Q&A with candidates at St Catherine’s Church, Pontypridd.

The event was organised in partnership with Friends of the Earth (Pontypridd) and Cytun (Churches Together in Wales). All candidates running for election in this constituency were invited to participate.

The hustings was a success, however, not all questions were answered, so as promised, here is a lift of your questions answered by each candidate (in no particular order)

 

  1. Where do you stand on the Green New Deal?

 

Labour Cllr. Alexandra Davies-Jones representing Tonyrefail West ward: 

“I fully support the Green New Deal and am proud of Welsh Labour’s environmental record, which includes being amongst the first nations to declare a climate emergency and ban fracking. Labour’s has an ambitious strategy to tackle the climate emergency that we are all facing. Labour’s measures on climate change include” –

  •  a “windfall tax” on oil and gas companies
  • Nationalising the supply arms of the ‘Big Six’ energy companies
  • creating 1 million green jobs
  • creating 800,000 climate apprenticeship
  • A 250billion pound Green Transformation Fund

 

Independent Party Cllr. Sue Prior – Pontypridd Constituency : 
“I am fully supportive of any undertakings that can work towards neutralising our carbon footprint
Planting hectares of trees sounds like a very good step forward as well as the plans that have been shelved in the past regarding tidal lagoons.
“We really need people to be more innovative and to support them in producing viable solutions that could be exported to assist in making the world more sustainable, cleaning up the messes made by current less than stellar organisations.
“I am not au fait with American contracts from seeing current deals in place they work for America only.”

 Conservative party Cllr. Sam Trask – for Pontypridd: 

“The green new deal is a bold approach to tackling climate change that will require buy-in and support across parties in Parliament to ensure that when the bill is brought to parliament then it is delivered in a responsible way. I agree trhat we should end fracking and all new exploration for fossil fuels, and should instead concentrate investment and research on new clean fuels such as hydrogen. I disagree with the deals suggestion that aviation needs to be kurbed.

“Having working the industry for over 20 years, I can tell anyone that aircraft are getting more and more fuel efficient, flying longer and further using less fuel. Air travel is here to stay and like fossil fuels, we should seek to make it cleaner, not ban it.”

Plaid Cymru candidate Fflur Elin – for Pontypridd: 
“I believe that the climate crisis is the biggest challenge we face and that we have to act now to save our planet. This also presents Wales with an opportunity as we have the natural resources to become a world leader in renewable technology.
“Plaid Cymru’s aim is to make Wales a carbon and single-use plastic free nation by 2030 and to transition to 100% self-sufficient in renewable energy. These are ambitious targets but the scale of the challenge we face demands serious action.
“Plaid Cymru will implement a Green Jobs Revolution to create tens of thousands of new jobs throughout Wales by kick-starting a multi-billion investment programme in renewable energy, transport infrastructure and digital technology.”
Independent Party Cllr. Mike Powell – for Pontypridd: 
“It is an excellent initiative and I fully support the ideas behind it.  We need to transition to clean energy, to improve public transport and produce low or no emission vehicles. I have long argued that all new buildings should be fitted with solar panels and be as energy efficient and carbon neutral as possible.  The transfer to green energy should provide a boost to the economy – let’s start making what we need for clean energy production here instead of importing it, However, without political will to make it happen then all the best intentions will come to nothing.
“Everyone needs to realise that this goes beyond political boundaries and party infighting.  Stop arguing about who will plant most trees or who has the best environmental targets and get on with the serious business of tackling the issues, cross party.
“There is also a need for more education on the subject. Far too many people are completely dismissive of any threat of climate change.  It is good to see that much of the drive towards positive environmental change in this area is coming from young people.”
Jonathan Bishop – Non party member: 

“Yes; I am already doing much of the things in the Green New Deal as a councillor and social entrepreneur.”

 

2.       Will you join Friday’s climate strike in Pontypridd to explain to my 8-year-old son why his dad should vote for you? 

 

Independent Party Cllr. Mike Powell – for Pontypridd: 

“I did attend and am very pleased to see the groundswell of people, and especially young people, locally and nationally  determined to do their bit to combat climate change.”

 

Independent Party Cllr. Sue Prior – Pontypridd Constituency : 

“I will certainly see if I can attend, not being overly familiar with this area, I would certainly like to hear all of your views and ideas, I think it’s imperative that we gather the knowledge and utilise the experience of those in the know to come up with suitable suggestions to resolve issues and get something done.

“Hmm, your dad to vote for me! Tough one this – I am a woman of action, I too am tired with inaction and seeing people suffering here in this constituency and this country.

“We need to reduce the scope – How can we enhance Pontypridd first – throw me ideas, where can we plant the trees? Once we do something locally then we can upscale and branch outward.

“I totally agree with you all, you are all much more knowledgeable than myself on this topic, if you are willing to teach me, i am more than willing to learn.

“You must vote for who you believe in, someone that will get the job done. I like plans – not a list of dreams that won’t ever be got around to!

Conservative party Cllr. Sam Trask – for Pontypridd: 

“I was pleased to join the strike4youth event on Friday – the children were inspirational.”

 

Labour Cllr. Alexandra Davies-Jones representing Tonyrefail West ward: “I was there! I spoke to your son . He asked some really interesting questions. I hope he was interested in my answers.”

 

Jonathan Bishop – Non party member:  “Because of all the candidates standing I’m the most experienced and accomplished. I’m not trying to say I’m better than your dad, just better than my opponents who unlike me don’t have 6 degrees, 5 fellowships and over 100 publications with over 1500 citations.”

Plaid Cymru candidate Fflur Elin – for Pontypridd: 

“I joined the climate strike and was inspired by the young people leading the march. Their demand that we have to act now to save our plant is one that politicians and political parties have to take seriously. A big thank you to the climate strikers for everything they are doing to change the world for the better.”

 

3. In October, over 1800 Extinction Rebellion members were arrested with the aim of getting the Government to create and be led by a citizens assembly on climate change.

Does the panel agree that the climate crisis is a more important issue than Brexit and in fact any issue facing humanity right now? Would they press for the creation of a citizens assembly to address the issues?

 

 Conservative party Cllr. Sam Trask – for Pontypridd: 

“The climate crisis is more important but also a far more long term issue that will require long term solutions. Brexit can be delivered within the next year or so and the UK can move on as an independent Island nation.

“The government is elected by the people to govern, not to be ruled over by a further level of bureaucracy that is unelected and therefore not accountable to the people.  I could not in good conscience support an unaccountable assembly which removes the sovereignty loaned to parliament by the people of the United Kingdom.”

Independent Party Cllr. Mike Powell – for Pontypridd: 

“Climate change is a vitally important issue and it is a huge shame that it, along with many other issues, has taken a back seat for so long whilst an incompetent Conservative government has blundered its way along without finding a way forward with regard to Brexit.

“Having said that, I believe continued membership of the European Union has a vital role to play in helping to tackle climate change.  It is the EU that has until now driven positive environmental change within the UK,  requiring us and other member countries to put in place policies and targets that it is unlikely  we would have seen enforced otherwise.”

 

Jonathan Bishop – Non party member: “See below answer on climate change and Brexit.”

 

Plaid Cymru candidate Fflur Elin – for Pontypridd: 

“The climate crisis and the global collapse of biodiversity is the defining challenge of our time. I would support the creation of a citizens assembly to address this issue as it enables citizens to engage in informed and considered debate which will improve decision-making.”

Labour Cllr. Alexandra Davies-Jones representing Tonyrefail West ward:

“I completely agree that the climate crisis is the most critical issue facing us. However, the decisions we make on Brexit will have a profound impact on our ability to meet the climate change challenge. I firmly believe that it is only by cooperating with other nations that we can meet this challenge, and BREXIT works against this.

“The complete mismanagement of BREXIT in Westminster has meant that the climate emergency has been pushed aside instead of being given the necessary attention that is desperately deserves. I applaud the Welsh Labour government who instead of having Extinction Rebellion protestors arrested sat down with them and invited them to take part in the Welsh Government climate change conference. As your MP I would absolutely call for the creation of a citizens assembly to help do all we can to address this vital issue.”

Independent Party Cllr. Sue Prior – Pontypridd Constituency : 

“Wow – that is a lot of people with strong beliefs! I have recently heard a report on the radio regarding one blog of an extinction rebellion protester, whilst I cannot condone the methods used, what does anyone expect when people are constantly ignored!

“Like i said previously – I am a woman of action – would i be heard even if selected as your MP in parliament. I believe strongly now is a time for change – mainstream politics is a debacle. The UK is broken, too many people have been unrepresented by the Mp’s in place not having any idea and being so far removed from the situations many face today.

“Climate crisis is indeed more important with Brexit, access to benefits and a decent living standard is more important than brexit. My feeling is that all governments and authorities look no further than their initial tenure, it’s a very short sighted and negligent attitude. Decent people can communicate always – a bad plan can be worked on to make a good one!

“Tell me more about what you wish for this assembly and how you propose it to be managed? Ultimately we need a plan of action rather than many meetings with nothing being achieved.”

 

4. If successful in being selected to represent Pontypridd, what will your priorities be – both as an individual MP and within your party (where relevant) to curb the toxic approaches and effects we have increasingly seen in British politics in recent years?

 

Independent Party Cllr. Mike Powell – for Pontypridd: “This is probably one of the hardest tasks anyone elected will face.  There is a dangerous undercurrent in Britain today that is quite frightening.  Political disagreements are one thing, but the level of abuse we are seeing and indeed the level of violence and threats of it, are certainly unprecedented in my experience.

“Much of it has come from arise in prominence of the hard right, who are succeeding in spreading a message of hatred and fear.  The media are not always helpful in decrying this, and social media is giving it a base from which to grow.

“As with so many things much of it comes back to education – children are not born to hate, it is a learned reaction.   But we need to educate adults too. As politicians we need to do more to spread the good news stories that often fall by the wayside, to counteract the hatred and the fake news.”

 

Jonathan Bishop – Non party member: 

“I would seek to pass the ‘Equality Act 2010 (Religion and Belief) Regulations 2020’ to clarify what is free speech and what is not. This would make it easier for online platforms like Twitter to be litigated against if they do not remove abusive content.”

 

Independent Party Cllr. Sue Prior – Pontypridd Constituency :

“I am an independent beholden to no party policies, if a motion is beneficial to my constituents then it would have my support, if not then I would endeavour to enhance the plan to make it work for the people or ensure it is struck out and minimum time is wasted.

“Having met a few other candidates, I can state that they are decent enough people, the problem comes with backing something good when their leaders say no, how to get around this?”

Being a decent person myself, I would hope that you could gain a majority, every one of us wishes for our constituency to flourish – we have to ensure the focus remains on that and that alone.”

Plaid Cymru candidate Fflur Elin – for Pontypridd: “I would strive to be an open, honest and accessible representative for Pontypridd. In Westminster, I would act in the way that I would like my elected representatives to act; taking part in robust debate and scrutiny without resorting to heckling and jeering.”

 

Labour Cllr. Alexandra Davies-Jones representing Tonyrefail West ward:

“I’m very concerned about the current state of British politics which is why I felt the need to stand up and put myself forward for election. I couldn’t sit back any longer and watch my community suffer from Tory austerity and the division that the mismanagement of BREXIT has caused us. I feel we desperately need real change to heal the divisions amongst our communities and we need to collectively call out and stand against the vitriol and hate that is coming from the far right, infecting not only our politics but our communities through the media and online platforms.

“We need cross party involvement and support in calling out any toxicity in our politics and we also need to lead by example. We need the media to be accountable for their use of language and the approach they take in sensationalising issues, and we need to bring the social media companies to account for their ignorance in ‘turning a blind eye’ to the abuse taking place on their platforms at all levels.”

 

Conservative party Cllr. Sam Trask – for Pontypridd: 

“I follow three golden rules when campaigning for election at any level: 1. Always tell the truth, 2. Don’t promise anything you don’t truly believe you can deliver and 3. Never make any personal attacks about your opponents, criticise their policies, not themselves. If elected, I would continue to follow these self imposed rules in office. Trust in politicians and politics is broken, you can only restore trust by being truthful at all times, and I give my solemn pledge to always be up front, honest and truthful with the people of Pontypridd.”

 

5. If you could take one policy from another party, what would it be?

 

Labour Cllr. Alexandra Davies-Jones representing Tonyrefail West ward: 

As a local Councillor and somebody committed to devolution I quite like the Green Party’s plans to further empower local government, particularly providing extra funding for them to deliver new training and skills for residents, to equip them for jobs created by the Green New Deal.”

Independent Party Cllr. Sue Prior – Pontypridd Constituency :

“I want the money tree – with the promises offered via manifesto’s we could heal the world! the reality is and will be very different.

“So what can we do on a restrictive budget, what can we enhance. Can money be located from elsewhere (perhaps somewhere it should not have been placed)

“Common Sense is missing in my opinion, I am a realist – many things are broken and need to be fixed. We have to prioritise – so again we need to work together to communicate and at the very least get something done for all.”

Conservative party Cllr. Sam Trask – for Pontypridd:

“I would take the Brexit Partys’ policy of 24 hour GP surgeries, people get ill at all hours of the day, with many having to wait for a derby style race to get an appointment on the day, at the moment phone lines open. Getting an out of hours appointment currently requires patients to make or recieve at least two phone calls, with long waits for telephone triage at busy times, then further long waits at a small number of out of hours services, often a long way away from home.

“A limited 24 hour service in local surgeries would lead to less suffering, and earlier diagnosis and treatment of illnesses, potentially keeping people out of hospital and reducing pressure on inpatient services.”

 

Independent Party Cllr. Mike Powell – for Pontypridd:

“As an Independent I would support good ideas from any party if  I felt they benefitted the people I represented.  The Conservatives are promising to increase the income tax threshold (a policy they actually stole from the Lib Dems who implemented it during the coalition) and that I agree with as it would raise the level of take home pay and help those on low wages.

“I also agree with the Lib Dem policy to put a penny on income tax to invest in the NHS (although of course as health is devolved it would be up to the Welsh Government how they would use any extra money that came into wales as a result of this.)”

 

Plaid Cymru candidate Fflur Elin – for Pontypridd:

“I would take a policy from New Zealand’s Government, which is led by Jucinda Arden of New Zealand’s Labour Party. They have designed their entire budget based on wellbeing priorities and are designing their policies to improve wellbeing.”

 

Jonathan Bishop – Non party member: 

“Planting more trees from The Brexit Party. I suggested it when governor of Parc Lewis Primary School in Treforest but it wasn’t adopted. My company uses a green web host which offsets carbon used through tree planting.”

 

6. Pontypridd is built on migration & in recent years the people of Pontypridd have offered a warm welcome to refugees from Syria that have had to flee their homes due to conflict or persecution. If you are elected as our MP what will you do to ensure Pontypridd can offer additional refugee resettlement places?

 

Jonathan Bishop – Non party member: 

“I would put pressure on the council to bring the many empty houses in RCT into use through compulsory purchase orders. However, I would put the British-born homeless in Pontypridd ahead of refugees or other foreign nationals. To do this we need to leave the EU and I would support the present withdrawal agreement of Boris Johnson or possibly the new withdrawal agreement promised by Jeremy Corbyn if it achieves the referendum result.”

Independent Party Cllr. Mike Powell – for Pontypridd:

“One of my big bugbears over many years has been the number of empty homes in RCT which I have long argued should be brought back into use for the homeless, those on low incomes struggling to get on the property ladder, and anyone else who needs a roof over the head.

“I would be pushing for the Council to use the powers it has to bring more of these back into use.  I would also be doing everything I could to give positive publicity to this cause and ensure those fleeing persecution continued to receive a warm welcome.”

Plaid Cymru candidate Fflur Elin – for Pontypridd:

“We have a responsibility to provide aid and support for those fleeing war or persecution. Plaid Cymru wants Wales to be a nation of sanctuary for refugees fleeing war and oppression and will ensure that support is available for refugees and asylum. To ensure that migration policy is fair and based on solidarity, I would call on the EU to move towards a migration system based on a fair allocation of asylum seekers across all Member States. This will include in Wales and Pontypridd.”

Conservative party Cllr. Sam Trask – for Pontypridd:

“The Conservative policy is to reduce overall migration with a reformed immigration system based on skills, and what needs exist for those skills here in the UK. We will continue to accept refugees fleeing persecution, with the ultimate goal being to help them return home – but only if and when it is safe and reasonable for them to do so. By cutting down on overall migration, there will be reduced pressure on local places available for anyone wishing to settle here so a greater availability for refugees.”

Labour Cllr. Alexandra Davies-Jones representing Tonyrefail West ward: 

“I’m proud of the response that our community in RCT has made to the resettlement of refugee’s and asylum seekers under the Welsh Government Syrian resettlement programme. We have a moral obligation to help people and their families who have come from conflict to help them rebuild their lives and reach their potential. There is more we need to do to ensure a fairer future for all in our communities and more we can do to help those still in need of resettlement.

“We should be funding support for new refugees to transition to new accommodation, and explore opportunities for housing with Registered Social Landlords, our local authority, credit unions and others to help identify appropriate accommodation.”

Independent Party Cllr. Sue Prior – Pontypridd Constituency :

“All people are welcome here, people running from harm or simply wishing to relocate. Let’s share that Valley love and embrace all. I wholeheartedly believe in supporting those in need. Then with grace they can pay it forward by working and contributing to the community and economy as you all do.

“Every member of this community is welcome. Housing as stated needs to be available, we need to eradicate these racist attitudes about – those days are long gone (thankfully) but some of that hateful negativity is still about.”

The below questions are from young Friends of the Earth members in Pontypridd

  • What are you going to do to get everyone’s attention on climate change which is the most important thing we need to tackle?

 

Independent Party Cllr. Sue Prior – Pontypridd Constituency :

“I want to ensure that manufacturers are made to be more responsible for their products, single use plastic has to be eradicated.Failing that we need some fabulously talented entrepreuner/inventor to come up with a machine that can recast this waste into something useful.

“The waste islands in the sea – also hurt my heart deeply – what can we do to clean this mess up! it’s despicable and I personally do not want to be in any way responsible for rubbish floating about. Some of it may even be ours from this area – Recycling has to work – NO MORE FAKE ACCOUNTING – Truth and transparency all the way.”

Plaid Cymru candidate Fflur Elin – for Pontypridd:

“As an MP, I would put tackling the climate crisis at the forefront of all I do and use my platform to amplify the voices of people at the forefront of the campaign, like Pontypridd’s young climate strikers.”

Labour Cllr. Alexandra Davies-Jones representing Tonyrefail West ward: 

“Ensure we have the most ambitious, radical programme for tackling climate change. We also need to ensure we get everyone involved in the process and thinking about how they can help. Young people have led the way on this issue and I would want to ensure that young people remain front and centre of the campaign, their energy and ideas are key to making the changes our planet needs.

“We need to make sure we keep talking about climate change but also that we urgently act on it! There are quick things we can be doing to immediately help and I will ensure these are acted upon. It’s also important we keep the media focus on the Climate Emergency, so any opportunity we have to raise the issue or create ‘noise’ I will.”

Conservative party Cllr. Sam Trask – for Pontypridd:

“I’m passionate about ending the UKs’ reliance on oil, be that natural gas for heating and cooking, or petrol and diesel to run our transportation. I would promote clean fuels such as hydrogen. Much of our existing gas network is already capable of carrying it, and only minor changes to existing appliances are required to run on almost pure hydrogen.

“I would drive legislation to promote the sale of hydrogen fuel cell cars, and the fuel supply network required to refuel them by help to buy schemes and requirements of suppliers to provide the right fuel. Imagine how much cleaner our air would be without all the emissions of petrol, diesel and gas eliminated.”

Jonathan Bishop – Non party member: 

“I have got my Council in Taff’s Well and Nantgarw to declare a climate change emergency. As part of that there has been an informal commitment to car sharing and we are looking at increasing biodiversity such as through planing trees and elevated flower beds.”

Independent Party Cllr. Mike Powell – for Pontypridd:

“Make sure it is at the centre of everything else we talk about.  For example:

  • Education – teach young people (and not so young) about what climate change means and what we can do to try and combat it.
  • Housing – no new house get built unless they are as near carbon neutral as possible.
  • Transport – new fuels and technology, improved public transport.
  • Jobs and the economy – create new jobs by promoting the green economy, building what we need in Britain – wind turbines, micro-hydro generators, etc.  Look at alternative ways of working that mean not everyone has to travel out of the valleys down into Cardiff every day to work.
  • Local Government – should have strict targets and be made to use more environmentally friendly methods of heating for example.  Why was a gas boiler installed in the Pontypridd Lido? Why not biomass energy?

 

  • Can we forget about Brexit and think more about climate change?

Labour Cllr. Alexandra Davies-Jones representing Tonyrefail West ward: 

“Unfortunately we cannot completely ignore Brexit and whatever happens we will need to work with the EU and other countries to reduce carbon emissions but I so absolutely agree that Climate change is the most important issue facing our world and future generations.”

Independent Party Cllr. Mike Powell – for Pontypridd:

“I would love to forget about Brexit – in my view leaving the EU would be a disaster for us on so many fronts.   The only way forward I see now is to hold a second referendum – for which I would campaign for a remain vote.  Let’s take Brexit off the table and get on with the important issue of tackling the global crisis we face together.”

Jonathan Bishop – Non party member: 

“Climate change is a natural process – we are simply reaching the end of the ice age. Rising sea levels should be as much of a concern as managing our fishing and livestock through leaving the Common Fisheries Policy and Common Agricultural Policy.”

Plaid Cymru candidate Fflur Elin – for Pontypridd:

“We can’t forget about Brexit as the outcome will have serious implications for our communities but tacking the climate crisis cannot wait nor can it be ignored because of Brexit.”

Conservative party Cllr. Sam Trask – for Pontypridd:

“Brexit is the whole reason we are having an election at the moment, we can’t forget about it until it’s finally delivered and we are trading with the rest of the world as an independant island nation. That doesn’t mean we can’t give more time to climate change whilst Brexit is being delivered. I believe parliament can do both at the same time, but for anything to be achieved, one party needs to have a majority or parliament will be just as paralysed as it was before it was dissolved for this election.”

Independent Party Cllr. Sue Prior – Pontypridd Constituency :

“I  have no idea what will happen with brexit, some parties will see the issue kicked about for years to come. I am not wanting my life spent wasted with talks on this topic. The money spent on being a member of the EU could be better spent enhancing the life of UK Citizens. Actually making a difference right now!

“This General Election seems to be about IN/OUT/SHAKE IT ALL ABOUT – I am about improving/enhancing this area for us all within. Many people just cannot move past this one issue. This is why we are stuck in a loop – takes a vote to step out and move forward!”

 

One additional question was asked to Independent Party Cllr. Mike Powell – for Pontypridd:

  •  As you have been a Lib Dem member for many years and indeed a parliamentary candidate in a number of general elections, why now are you standing as an independent candidate?

Independent Party Cllr. Mike Powell – for Pontypridd:

“I was indeed a member of the Liberal Democrats for many years and leaving the party was not an easy decision for me or my colleague and long time agent  who took the same decision.

“My central liberal values of fairness and equality still remain and are what drives me as a politician and indeed as a person. However, I feel the party has become removed from those values.

“The final decision came about as a result of back room deals made by people at the top of the party, with no consultation with members, to do a deal with Plaid Cymru and the Green party.  They got together under a “Unite to Remain” banner to decide who had the best chance in each constituency of winning the seat on a remain in the EU ticket.

“Now if this were genuinely the driving force and it had been thoroughly discussed and agreed upon then I night, just might, have been able to agree with it. Remaining in the EU is, for me, very important.  However, it changed from being for the alleged “greater good” to being a trade-off so that each party could get a free run in their target seats.  So the Lib Dem hierarchy agreed to stand down in 7 seats in favour of Plaid and one in favour of the Greens on the condition that those two parties stood down in their three targets.

“This is pure voter manipulation.  It is denying the electorate a chance to vote in accordance with their views and for the person or party they wish to. This election is to elect a representative for possibly the next 5 years, it has to be about more than Brexit.   For me principle, people and indeed Pontypridd have always come before party.”

 

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Blog: When Charlotte met Hilary

Our long term Volunteer Charlotte Morgan, has gained a place on the Hillary Rodham Clinton Global Challenges Scholarship at Swansea University.
Here is what she had to say about her experience with us and the exciting new adventure ahead of her: 

 

I started volunteering at WCIA five months ago after hearing about the inspirational work they do from a friend and I am so happy I did! The staff are welcoming and really make you feel like you are part of the team. Entering a new environment can often be daunting but I was instantly put at ease and reassured that I could ask for help with anything I was unsure about.

 

During my time with WCIA so far, I have been presented with a wide range of opportunities (and biscuits!).  I have gained invaluable communications experience, developed my research skills and the inspirational work they do to improve human rights has raised my awareness of contemporary issues both locally and around the world. It has also inspired me to try and make a difference in any way I can in the future.

 

I was particularly taken with the current work WCIA do with schools around Wales, inspiring young people to express themselves through the debating of global issues. There are opportunities to work with other organisations, such as Fairtrade Wales, which has given me an insight into the great work they do too.  I was also lucky enough to attend stakeholder meetings in Cardiff Bay and it was fascinating to hear discussions about human rights in Wales.

It is through WCIA that I learned about a Masters scholarship at the Hilary Clinton School of Law in Swansea University. The programme aims to further international cooperation to address urgent national challenges such as human rights and environmental law.

I was lucky enough to be given one of the graduate scholarships. After learning that I had been accepted, I was excited – this excitement grew when I was then told that Secretary Clinton was visiting Swansea University in the coming weeks, and that she would love to meet the five scholars accepted on to her course. When the big day came around I met the other four scholars who were extremely lovely (and just as nervous as me!).

 

We were introduced to Secretary Clinton and escorted into a room where we got to have an informal chat with her. We each told her a bit about ourselves – what we do, our aspirations, why we chose the course. Secretary Clinton then gave us advice about our careers and goals, and was lovely and genuine in what she said. We were also lucky enough to be given front row seats to her panel event, Gutsy Welsh Women and it was an honour to hear such inspirational women speak about Wales. It was a very surreal but equally amazing day!

I most definitely wouldn’t have been awarded this opportunity without the help of the lovely people at WCIA. Volunteering here is an incredibly enjoyable experience, and I am extremely grateful for all the new skills and knowledge I have gained. Thank you!

 

by Charlotte Morgan

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Top debaters battle to be number one at 2019 Wales Schools’ Debating Championships

Pupils from across the country will compete in individual and team rounds to be crowned winners of the Wales Schools Debating Championships 2019.

On Monday 16 December, four teams from Ysgol Tryfan in Bangor,  Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg in Barry, Cardiff’s Cathedral School and Cardiff Sixth Form College and four individuals; Amelia, Cameron, Daniel and Alice, will meet at Tredegar House for the semi and final rounds.

The exciting range of topics to be debated on the day will include protest, equity, democracy and justice.

This is the 18th and final year of the Wales Schools Debating Championship, which has involved up to 60 schools competing each year. Last year’s team champions were Howells School in Cardiff and Arianne Banks from Stanwell School won the award for Individual Speaker.

Cardiff Sixth Form teacher and Head of Debating, Sue Clements said: “Our students have been doing the competition for 12 years because it supports thinking and speaking skills which in turn improves life chances, allowing students to get places in Universities and better jobs.

“What’s great about the Welsh Competition is that it builds confidence and lets students engage with a range of challenging topics that are relevant to today’s world.”

The WCIA team would like to thank Tredegar House for hosting and The Hodge Foundation for their support over the years.

Lydia Griffiths, Visitor Experience Officer at Tredegar House said:

“We are thrilled to be hosting the competition’s finale here at Tredegar House. The event will take place on the backdrop of our Riches and Rebellion exhibition which we launched in September, it was inspired by the 180th anniversary of the Newport Rising which saw Chartist protesters, march towards the Westgate Hotel located in the city of Newport.

“Inspired by the Six Point Charter they fought for the vote and a voice, and sadly 22 of the protestors died for what they believed in. We hope the finalists will be inspired by the history and the Chartist’s legacy, and wish them all the best in their debates and speeches.”

 

 

Read more about our the Debating Championships here 
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