Are you represented?
Step Up Cymru - New Scheme launched to encourage wider participation in Welsh democracy
Citizens who are under represented within Wales are being encouraged to get involved with both local and national democracy as a result of a new scheme launched today by the National Assembly for Wales, the Welsh Local Government Association and the Welsh Assembly Government.
The Step Up Cymru Scheme has been developed in partnership between the National Assembly for Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government and local government in Wales to encourage a diverse range of people to get more involved in democracy and in local decision making.
Through Step Up Cymru, anyone interested in national and local democracy will have the opportunity to get a better insight into what it means to be involved on a day to day basis.
Participants will be given the opportunity to shadow Assembly Members and local councillors, observing what they do and learning about their role; from public finance and public service delivery to helping to direct members of their community to useful sources of information.
Assembly Members and local councillors will provide participants with the necessary information they need to help them decide if they want to get more involved, as well as advising them what they need to do next.
Lorraine Barrett, AM, the Assembly Commissioner with responsibility for Equality said:
“While the National Assembly has made giant leaps in terms of gender balance it is clear a lot more needs to be done to engage people from other under-represented groups”
Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas AM, Presiding Officer, National Assembly for Wales said.
“It will instil greater confidence in the Assembly and local government amongst under represented groups and give them the opportunity to acquire the skills and knowledge to act as community ambassadors, advising and empowering others to become more actively engage in civic society”
Cllr John Davies, WLGA leader said “The involvement of citizens in civic and political life is critical if democracy is to thrive in the future
. For this scheme to be a success, it needs the participation of citizens who feel that their voice is not heard and their views not taken into account.”
Step Up Cymru follows a previous project run by Operation Black Vote in partnership with the National Assembly for Wales which successfully increased representation of black and ethnic minority people in politics. Elizabeth Musa was a graduate of this scheme after shadowing Helen Mary Jones, AM. She said:
“ It’s been a real journey and an education” she said “I would say to anyone thinking of applying for a place on a mentoring scheme: please don’t stay on the outside looking in, get involved, be someone that helped make the change in your area, don’t leave it to someone else!”
Fourteen Assembly Members have signed up to be mentors as well as councillors from local authorities in Wales.
Anyone who is interested in participating in the Scheme should visit: www.assemblywales.org/step-up-cymru for further information or contact Adam Rees on 029 2089 8178
Candidates should not necessarily come from political backgrounds or have experience in politics.
They should however have:
a need to be enthusiastic about politics / civic participation
a desire to learn more about the political sphere
An eagerness to act as a Community Ambassador, representing their communities’ views and promoting democracy
a willingness to work flexibly around personal / work commitments
A need to have an understanding of some of the main social and political concerns of the under-represented group that they are representing
Criteria for pairing are likely to be based upon:
Similarity in work / caring commitments
Under-represented groups in Welsh politics include: ethnic minority groups; Lesbian, gay, bisexual people; disabled people; people of different religions/beliefs; young people; older people; transgender people and women
A ‘steering group’ is involved in the design, promotion, implementation and monitoring of the Scheme; as well as offering expertise where necessary. Members include:
All-Wales Ethnic Minority Association (AWEMA)
Equality and Human Rights Commission
Operation Black Vote
Wales Women’s National Coalition
Women Making a Difference
Help the Aged and Age Concern Cymru