This Thursday, November 25, I’m holding a vigil in Daniel Owen Square in Mold to mark White Ribbon Day to highlight violence against women and girls.

The vigil – on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women –   is open to members of the public who would like to gather safely in solidary. We will be pledging to do all we can to end the cycle of violence against women and girls – and to “never commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women”.

Speakers will include the Mayor of Mold, Sarah Taylor, and the Police and Crime Commissioner, Andy Dunbobbin, and we are asking people to each bring a candle along.

The vigil will be even more poignant this year when we remember victims of violence including Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa whose deaths were widely reported and mourned this year.

But we should also be remembering the 81 women who have been killed in circumstances where the suspect is a man since the death of Ms Everard in March 2021.

Most of these deaths did not receive such media attention but are a damning portrait of the level of violence against women, young and old, that still exists in our society.

Please, if you are able, join us from 6:30pm on Thursday 25 November.

Last week there was good news for schools and young readers in Wales last week as the Education Minister, Jeremy Miles, announced the Welsh Government would be providing a book for every child and young person in Wales – as well as funding for more books in schools and families.

He announced an additional £5m in funding for reading programmes across Wales to provide a book for every learner, alongside a targeted scheme of reading support focusing on early years and disadvantaged learners.

The programme will include 72,000 additional books to reception children at schools across Wales, 3,600 letterbox club packs, books and training for practitioners to support learning, and one box of 50 books to every state school in Wales.

The new funding should help ensure children and young people get the ‘reading bug’ and this will become a gateway to learning other skills and improving their educational attainment in years to come.

This winter, with the cost of living rising, last week’s Welsh Government announcement of a £100 one-off payment to help lower income families with energy bills is really good news.

This payment will provide immediate support to people facing rising costs and will be paid to all working age people in Wales who receive means-tested benefits. The aim is to reduce the impact of the cut to Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit and the rising cost of energy.

Local authorities will be writing to eligible households to enable the payment. Individuals may also choose to submit a claim via their local council’s website from 13 December 2021.

All applications must be received by a local council by 18 February 2022 and payments will be made from 13 December 2021 until 31 March 2022.

Lastly, I welcomed last week’s announcement by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) that it would no longer allow fox hunting on its land.

When I was Minister for the Environment in 2018 I wrote to NRW saying that the Welsh Government did not support pheasant shooting, game bird breeding or the keeping of these birds in cages on government-owned land. I was very pleased that NRW went on to ban these practices – so it’s great that they’ve now taken this next step.

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