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Step Up Cymru

Step Up Cymru is a pilot mentoring scheme created for individuals in Wales who come from under represented groups.

About the scheme

Tell me more about Step Up Cymru…


Following the award-winning Assembly Member shadowing scheme managed by Operation Black Vote in 2007, the Step Up Cymru Pilot Scheme was devised in partnership between the National Assembly for Wales, Welsh Local Government Association and Welsh Government.We were keen to build on the work pioneered by Operation Black Vote and extend it to people from under-represented groups who were keen to learn more about democracy in Wales and get involved in politics and/or their communities.

In order to reach out and invite those people to be involved and make sure that it was appropriate for them, it was important for the scheme to make contact with charities and organisations that represented different groups. Our partners from the voluntary sector have also played an important part in formulating Step Up Cymru through their membership of the steering group and their contribution to the selection process.


The scheme ran between October 2009 and April 2010 and provided 34 participants from across Wales, with an opportunity to shadow and be mentored by a Councillor or Assembly Member over a six month period. The aim of the Scheme was to increase participants’ involvement with democratic bodies and develop their roles as active citizens and community ambassadors. We also anticipated that mentees would gain an insight into the role of an elected representative, to network and learn more about active citizenship and navigate their way around the political structures and institutions in Wales. Also, we identified that mentors might enhance their understanding of the barriers to participation faced by people who identify as under-represented.

Step Up Cymru was also designed to raise awareness amongst elected politicians about the barriers that people who considered themselves to be from under-represented groups might face. It provided an opportunity for Local Councillors and Assembly Members to identify what their roles might be in raising awareness in and removing these barriers.


Mentors and Mentees were required to meet for a minimum of ten occasions, with experiences ranging from attending meetings and observing the work of local councils and the National Assembly for Wales to attending local surgeries with Mentors to hear about issues affecting their constituents. In some cases, Mentees accompanied their Mentors to conferences, site-visits and other networking events.

In addition to the minimum of ten experiences, a learning and development programme was devised to enhance the Mentees’ understanding of devolution in Wales; to develop their networks and engage with national and local organisations and enhance self-confidence in making their voices heard and encouraging others around them to do so.

What next?

The pilot Scheme has been evaluated and we have published a report which looks at how the Scheme is run and whether is achieved what it set out to do. The report recommends how the Scheme might be taken forward in the future.

We have attempted to capture as much learning from Mentees and Mentors as possible and you can read some of the Mentees’ Journals which were kept while on Scheme. Also, you might be interested in our e-chats which some Mentees filmed with prominent people in the public eye.

“The Step Up Cymru scheme has provided me with an opportunity to gain an understanding of the workings of public life and has inspired me to make a positive contribution, I hope that you all feel the same and are ready to become more involved in public life.”

Annette Monks (Mentee) speaking at the Step Up Cymru closing event 21 April 2010

  • Evaluation Report
The full evaluation report and a summary version are available here to download. If you require a copy of the report in an alternative format, please contact us.

  • Resources and Information

Mentee Journals

As part of the Step Up Cymru Scheme, participating mentees were asked to write a journal of their thoughts and experiences on the Scheme. Below are some extracts from these journals.

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