At the start of this week I took the opportunity to pay my respects to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, attending a small outdoor service at St Mary’s Church in Mold, and privately visiting memorials in Holywell, Flint and Northop Hall.
This year’s period of Remembrance has certainly been different, but it was moving to see the different ways people have paid their respects. Fundraising, displaying poppies in their windows, joining neighbours on their doorsteps to mark the two-minute silence.
I also had the privilege of responding to a debate in the Senedd on behalf of the Welsh Government, on Armistice Day itself, thanking the armed services, both serving and retired, across Wales for their contributions.
One thing that has been made clear is that our traditional message has not been forgotten – “We will remember them”.
Monday marked the lifting of the fire break restrictions and the introduction of Wales-wide measures, such as the reintroduction of extended households, now only made up of two separate households, and a limit of four individuals from separate households meeting in regulated settings such as cafés, pubs and restaurants. As always I have shared more information about the changes on my Facebook page – Hannah Blythyn MS – and would encourage Leader readers who have any questions to get in touch with me on 01352 762102 or at Hannah.Blythyn@senedd.wales.
With our non-essential shops reopening, we should do all we can to support our local businesses and get our high streets thriving once again. Many of them have adapted the way they operate in order to make visits for their customers as safe as possible, but also to expand their offer. Christmas is fast approaching and with so many fantastic shops across our communities, why not consider what gifts you can purchase locally and support our local economy.
It is also at the time of year where I join USDAW, the trade union which represents shop workers, and their members for their Freedom from Fear campaign. Each year USDAW run a campaign in the run up to the Christmas period, highlighting that it is not acceptable for shop workers to face abuse, threats and sadly violence, whilst simply doing their job.
In 2019 USDAW carried out a survey exploring the levels of abuse and violence which shop workers face across the UK and received almost 6,500 responses. I am sure that Leader readers will also be shocked to learn that over two-thirds of respondents had received verbal abuse and 41% had been threatened with violence. Sadly around 400 shop workers were assaulted every day in 2019.
I am sure many constituents will agree that this is simply unacceptable and will join with me in calling for stronger measures to protect shop workers whilst they are at work. I will be sharing information about the campaign, including a link to this year’s survey, through my Facebook page.
Please do share the information and encourage shop workers to complete the survey. It is not right that anyone should face abuse – physical or verbal – whilst they are doing their job. We can bring an end to this, but only together.
This week the Education Minister also set out the approach to qualifications over the next year, confirming that exams would not take place for GCSE, AS or A Level learners. This is in an effort to ensure a level playing field for learners and will mean that exams are replaced by teacher-led assessments, which will be developed collaboratively over the coming months. The Education Minister has engaged with the higher education sector and has committed to continuing to engage with universities to ensure that no Welsh learner is at a disadvantage.
I remain on hand to support any individual, community group or business that needs my support – please just get in touch.