Week 7 at the National Assembly for Wales

It’s my last week at my internship! I feel like I blinked and it’s over, I really don’t know how this happened. This week has just been all about wrapping up loose ends. I finally finished my research on homelessness and I’m incredibly excited for the end result; now that I’ve finished the preliminary work, the homelessness white paper can begin to be assembled. The work I’ve done and the eventual paper gives me the chance to say I’m published, at least in terms of doing most of the research for an important government publication, which is so exciting! It’s amazing that I get the experience of having done the work for a paper that will lead to some incredibly interesting and ground-breaking policy being implemented and I’m very proud of what I was able to accomplish with that.

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Week 6 at the National Assembly for Wales

This week was off to a start with me working on a brief for my AM to ask a follow-up question during Plenary. The question was asking for a progress report on the Arbed scheme in Wales, a program designed to retrofit houses with energy-saving measures. The scheme provides new boilers, wall cladding and smart meters, amongst other things, to low-income families so they can decrease their energy bills and move out of fuel property. This week I also spent some time drafting questions for two separate days of Plenary. I created a list of questions to ask the environment minister, ranging from things like asking about the progress of national tree-building programs to asking about if the government had considered carbon recycling programs to meet its emissions goals. I also came up with a list of more general questions for the First Minister, asking about updates on Welsh-language learning initiatives and carbon-neutral home building programs.

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Week 5 at the National Assembly for Wales

This week I’ve mostly focused on wrapping up the third part of my long-term research project. I did some work on rough sleeping solutions, housing first program, children who leave foster care dropping into homelessness and solutions for eradicating homelessness from the root. Seeing how interested I was in the meeting I attended last week with the Builder’s Association, my AM took me along to another meeting this week about decarbonisation in Welsh homes. The stakeholders had prepared an incredibly detailed report about how this could be accomplished over the next thirty years, by drawing in various authorities and individuals to create a new wave of sustainable building. Not only would such a scheme heavily decrease energy usage and help alleviate fuel poverty but, coupled with grid decarbonisation, would be incredibly beneficial in helping Wales reach its carbon emission targets. I also attended a fascinating event on the pledge for carbon neutrality in Wales. The event was hosted by Extinction Rebellion and was incredibly interesting for me, as someone who doesn’t know much about the organisation, to witness this movement first hand. A general consensus was that the government was moving in the right direction and very committed and open to tackling climate change head-on. The purpose of this event, then, was to create a list of suggestions and demands under the sponsorship of various AMs that the Welsh Assembly could consider.

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Week 4 at the National Assembly for Wales

Time is going by way too quickly! The Assembly’s term ends in 3 weeks and I think that’s just now hitting me – I’m trying to make the most of my time left. I’m still progressing with my long-term project and spent most of this week focusing on youth homelessness, veteran homelessness and best practice homelessness reduction methods. I also got to do some really fascinating research for a debate my AM was taking part in. The way the week goes when the Assembly is in term is every Tuesday, the AMs go to Plenary and ask the First Minister questions for the first hour on recent events, followed by two hours of general questions relating to that week’s chosen topic. On Wednesday, Plenary is more focused on having a few hour-long debates on varying subjects. This week, my AM was speaking on the land transaction tax that Wales applied to commercial property. Though its seen as beneficial to first-time homeowners and those residing in cheaper properties, the 6% tax is seen a big hindrance to investment, thereby causing a lot of debate.

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Week 3 at the National Assembly for Wales

The highlight of this week was the Vale of Glamorgan smallholders who came to visit – they brought goats, sheep and piglets with them! The smallholders are people who farm on smaller plots of land than traditional farmers. My AM sponsored an event for them to come in and share about their way of life and how the government could protect it. Part of the presentation included spinning on a wheel with fresh wool and of course, the animals! It was fascinating to hear from them all the details of their livelihoods, all of which was new information to me. Alongside my regular research, I also got the chance to do some research for a Plenary debate my AM wanted to speak on, about how Welsh history and language can be better incorporated into the Welsh school curriculum. Currently, Welsh history is taught almost as an afterthought to English history in schools. Welsh culture and history is not taught in the context of every subject nor is it tested on the GCSEs or A-Levels, decreasing motivation for teachers to cover the material in school. As the government works on a new final curriculum for 2022, having ongoing debates to iron out the final details is incredibly important and getting to research something like this that I have no prior knowledge of was really interesting.