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Elin discusses Welsh Youth Parliament with Clinton

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Receiving her honorary doctorate: Hillary Rodham Clinton

AS PART of her visit to Swansea University, Hillary Rodham Clinton had an opportunity to discuss the National Assembly for Wales’ plans to establish a new Welsh Youth Parliament with the Llywydd, Elin Jones AM.

Hillary Clinton received an honorary doctorate from Swansea University, delivered a lecture, ‘Children’s Rights are Human Rights’ and bestowed her name on the Law School, which will be known as the Hillary Rodham Clinton School of Law.

The honorary doctorate recognises Hillary Clinton’s commitment to promoting the rights of families and children around the world. Swansea University, which is home to the Wales Observatory on Human Rights of Children and Young People, shares that commitment and has played a part in shaping Welsh public policy on children’s human rights, including the development of policy for a Welsh Youth Parliament.

In October 2016, the Assembly unanimously agreed a motion to establish a new youth parliament for Wales. The Assembly Commission consulted with over five thousand young people between April-June this year and an overwhelming majority voted in favour of the proposals outlined.

Last week, the Commission agreed to progress the plans and are finalising arrangements to empower children and young people between the ages of 11-18 to elect 60 members to represent their views as Youth Welsh Parliament Members.

The Llywydd, Elin Jones AM, said: “Wales is rightly proud of its record in advancing the children’s rights agenda and I’m pleased to be able to share with Hillary Clinton how the National Assembly for Wales is contributing to this. The establishment of the Children’s Commissioner’s office and the impact of the Rights of Children and Young Persons law, which requires the Welsh Government to have due regard to the rights and obligations in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), have positioned us well on the international stage.

“Now, we’re planning for the election of the first Welsh Youth Parliament, having consulted with thousands of young people from communities across Wales about the kind of youth parliament they want to see.

“Young people in Wales are currently not able to vote in National Assembly for Wales elections until they are 18. This age threshold, and whether it should be lowered, is actively being considered by an expert panel commissioned by the National Assembly at this time. Despite this, we absolutely believe that young people are citizens whose voices must be heard at the heart of Welsh political debate.

“Following our consultation with young people, I’m pleased to announce the key features of our new Welsh Youth Parliament.”

The details include:

  • 40 Youth Welsh Parliament Members will represent Wales’ electoral constituencies and 20 will represent specific groups;
  • YWPM will be elected for a two year term and be allowed to stand for election more than once;
  • The Welsh Youth Parliament will be independent from all political parties;
  • The Welsh Youth Parliament will empower young people to bring about change on the issues that matter to them; and
  • It will represent the views of the young people of Wales and ensure young people are influencing the work of the Assembly.

Elin Jones added: “I want the Youth Parliament to reach young people in communities across the nation, in particular those who do not usually get their voices heard. Youth Welsh Parliament Members will go out and listen to other young people, and provide them with an opportunity to express their opinions and empower them to be more active citizens in their nation.”

Vice-Chancellor of Swansea University Professor Richard B Davies said: “We are delighted to present an honorary award to Hillary Rodham Clinton, a figure of enormous international significance and one synonymous with human rights, particularly the rights of children and young people. It is tremendous that she has chosen Swansea University for her first public appearance on this visit to the UK. It shows that we are being noticed for our excellent research and teaching, and the impact that we are making globally.”

Jane Williams, Associate Professor and Co-Director of the Wales Observatory on Human Rights of Children and Young People at Swansea University said: “All of us at the Wales Observatory – both at Swansea and Bangor Universities – are thrilled that the Llywydd is able to join us in celebrating Hillary Clinton’s association with our work on children’s human rights.

“The Llywydd’s leadership and her engagement with the young people who worked so hard to campaign for a Welsh Youth Parliament are proof that we really can work together across all ages to build a better Wales – and a better world – for everyone.”

Professor Elwen Evans QC, head of the Hillary Rodham Clinton School of Law, added: “We are delighted to have Mrs Clinton’s support as a champion for the human rights of children and young people. The School of Law has an international reputation for its ground-breaking work in this area, and we look forward to working with Mrs Clinton to promote and protect these rights around the world through policy, practice, advocacy and law reform”.

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Meeting to take place to discuss impact of Brexit on Pembrokeshire and west Wales.

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PEMBROKESHIRE for Europe will be holding an open meeting at the Bloomfield Centre, Narberth on 19 September at 7pm on the impact of Brexit on Pembrokeshire and West Wales. Three distinguished speakers will give their perspectives on the impact of Brexit on Pembrokeshire and West Wales:-

Edward Perkins will speak about the impact on agriculture. Edward has enjoyed a long career as auctioneer and valuer for over 50 years. This has involved close contact with the agricultural industry on a wide variety of activities. Although based in West Wales his work has taken him to most parts of Wales an on various activities in Europe in the agricultural field. He has served many organisations and committees including 10 years on the Secretary of State advisory committee on agriculture. He has provided replies to many agricultural consultation papers. He is currently a consultant to the Edward H Perkins firm of rural surveyors and agricultural valuers.

Jeremy Percy will speak about the impact on fishing. Jeremy has been crew, skipper and owner of a variety of fishing vessels and was previously Deputy Director of the South Wales Sea Fisheries Committee and CEO to the Low Impact Fishers of Europe platform when he represented the interests of the small scale commercial fishermen across 16 european member states. He is currently director of the New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association in these challenging times for the UK’s fishing industry.

Gwyn Evans, Brexit Lead Officer for Pembrokeshire County Council will speak about the preparations the Council is making. In 2018 Gwyn developed the methodology behind the Brexit impact log that has since been adopted by numerous Councils across Wales and England. Since then he has been working with colleagues in Pembrokeshire and beyond on Brexit preparations and earlier this year was part of a Welsh Local Government Association delegation to Cornwall examining Brexit preparedness. Gwyn is a Chartered Secretary and Accounting Technician with considerable experience working on EU regional policy. He has worked in local government since 1982.

We have also invited a representative from the Welsh Government.

Alistair Cameron from Pembrokeshire for Europe said: “Since joining the Common Market in the 1970s, Pembrokeshire together with the rest of Wales and Britain has benefited through frictionless trade with over 300 million customers in the EU. Our ferries at Fishguard and Pembroke Dock enjoy easy access to Ireland. Also thanks to our membership of the European Union, we benefit from free trade agreements with over 50 countries around the world.”

We are organising this meeting to discuss the benefits of EU membership to Pembrokeshire and West Wales and also the risks of Brexit. Everyone is welcome to come to this open meeting to ask questions and take part in the discussion.

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Disabled people hit hardest by changes to benefits

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CHANGES to the welfare system over the past ten years have left disabled adults four times worse off financially than non-disabled adults, according to new research commissioned by the Disability Benefit Consortium, a coalition of over 80 UK disability organisations.

While many people who receive welfare support have experienced cuts of an average of £300 as a result of changes to the welfare system, disabled people have typically lost around £1,200 per year.

. The research, funded by the Three Guineas Trust, is the first comprehensive study looking specifically at the cumulative impact of welfare changes on disabled people, and conducted by the University of East Anglia, the University of Glasgow and Landman Economics.
The research also found:

. The more disabilities you have the more you lose out, for example someone who has six or more    disabilities loses over £2,100 each year on average, whereas someone with one disability loses around £700 each year.

Households with one disabled adult and one disabled child lose out the most, with average losses of over £4,300 per year.

Today’s report by the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC), ‘Has welfare become unfair – the impact of changes on disabled people’, which is based on this research, looks at the financial impact and lived experiences of welfare reform on disabled people over the past ten years.

As part of the research, 50 people living with a variety of conditions and disabilities were interviewed about their experiences. People said that they found the application and assessment processes highly stressful, and that they did not feel trusted, and constantly challenged.

The DBC also state that the current system has become so complex and dysfunctional, that many disabled people have found it has had a devastating impact on their wider health and wellbeing.

Pam McGee, 48, from Kent, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 1994, which severely impacts her mobility. After a PIP assessment in 2017 she lost the higher rates for both the mobility and daily living components, which means her support was cut by £290 a month and she no longer qualifies for a Motability car. She’s now appealing the decision and says the stress caused by this process has impacted her health. She said: “If I lost my car, I don’t know how I’d carry on. I’m terrified I’ll be out of a job because without the car I won’t be able to get anywhere. If I can’t work at the age of 48, I would lose all of my pride. People always ask ‘What’s your name and what do you do?’ My job is what defines me.

“In the last 10 weeks I’ve had a massive relapse. I went dizzy and lost all feeling in my left leg. When I spoke to my neurologist he said the relapse was probably caused by stress. I’ve also been depressed and eating less.

“PIP has caused me and my family a lot of anxiety and stress. It’s caused my MS symptoms to worsen, which has reduced my mobility, confidence, and ability to take care of myself physically as well as mentally.”

The DBC say that the failure to include disability premiums as part of Universal Credit, and poorly designed assessment criteria are just two examples of the problems that are leaving disabled people worse off and is calling on the Government to make urgent improvements to the welfare system to ensure it works for everyone.

Michael Griffin, Research Lead for the DBC and Senior Policy Adviser at Parkinson’s UK, said: “For the first time, our research has shown just how much disabled people are bearing the brunt of the disastrous changes to welfare.

“Many disabled people have not yet even experienced the full extent of the cuts because they are still waiting to be moved over to Universal Credit. However, when this happens there will be a surge in poverty among those who are already at a crisis point.

“This is simply disgraceful and cannot be allowed to continue. The Government must make urgent improvements to the application processes and assessment criteria, and resolve the flaws in Universal Credit before more people are denied the support they desperately need to live independently.”

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Politics

Carers Week: Eluned Morgan AM says thanks to carers everywhere

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by Eluned Morgan AM

WE’VE just celebrated ‘Carers Week’; an opportunity to say a massive ‘Thank You’ to all carers everywhere. No matter what age you are, who you care for and support, where you live or how much time it takes, every act of caring matters and deserves to be recognised.

Every day, people start caring for the first time. Carers are often hidden from view – putting their own health and wellbeing to the back of the queue. Many can become socially isolated, and some face financial pressures as a result of juggling work life with caring responsibilities.

We know that there are at least 370,000 carers in Wales (that’s more than the population of Cardiff) and that three in five of us will undertaking a caring role at some point in our lives. The latest census revealed that there were at least 15,000 carers in Pembrokeshire, a figure that probably underestimates reality.

I had the opportunity to meet carers from across the region in an event organised by Carers UK at the National Assembly. It became apparent from my conversations that, for many, it is a challenge to know how or where to get help. Caring can creep up unnoticed: for many, it begins with parents suddenly being unable to manage alone, or a partner’s health gradually becoming worse.

But it is important to know that there is support available and people shouldn’t put off asking for help. Organisations like Carers UK are there to listen, to give expert information and advice, tailored to your situation, to champion your rights and support you in finding new ways to manage at home, at work, or wherever you are.

If you know someone who could benefit from some help, please spread the word. We can all play our part in recognising and celebrating the essential contributions carers make, sharing information about caring support services within our local communities.

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