With the Welsh Parliament now in Summer recess, I started the week meeting Cymru Versus Arthritis and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy online to discuss the support needed by people waiting longer for orthopaedic surgery. The pausing of elective orthopaedic services during the pandemic has left tens of thousands of people waiting significantly longer for life-changing procedures such as joint replacements.
I had a Zoom meeting with Building Communities Trust (BCT) and members of the growing Community Movement Cymru to discuss their work to develop the strengths and assets of communities in Wales, and how the new Welsh Government and Senedd can best support this. BCT research shows community groups across Wales often feel overlooked and under-resourced by local and national Government, increasingly less able to influence decisions affecting their local area. Despite this, the response to coronavirus has been a catalyst for change in many parts of Wales. We must build upon this community spirit and innovative joint working, not blindly return to ‘business as usual’.
As Wales Species Champion for the Curlew, considered the most pressing bird conservation priority throughout the UK, I had a constructive online meeting with Gylfinir Cymru /Curlew Wales, a coalition of bodies formed to try and halt the dire decline of Curlew in Wales, to discuss preparation for the launch of their Wales Action Plan for the Recovery of Curlew.
As Chair of the Cross-Party Group (CPG) on Fuel Poverty and Energy Efficiency during previous Senedd terms, I met the Head of NEA (National Energy Action) Cymru, to discuss developments on fuel poverty policy action in Wales and re-establishing the CPG in the 6th Senedd.
Other online meetings included Wales & West Utilities, to discuss issues including their ‘Gas Goes Green’ initiative; the ‘HyNet’ North Wales and North West England project, seeking to replace fossil fuels gas with clean hydrogen and store carbon dioxide, while protecting jobs and creating new opportunities for businesses to grow; the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and the Wales Adviser for the Catholic Education Service, to discuss their priorities going forward; and Stonewall Cymru, to discuss their work to protect and progress LGBTQ+ rights.
I also attended the ‘Your voice, your Senedd, your Wales’ Online Engagement Session with TCC (Together Creating Communities), an alliance of groups from across North East Wales, working together to campaign on the issues which affect our communities, and an online Construction Industry Training Board Wales ‘Construction Skills Network’ Briefing.
If you need my help, email Mark.Isherwood@senedd.wales or call 0300 200 7219.