This week I will be sponsoring and speaking at an event at the Senedd to mark World Aids Day on December 1st.
This year marks an important milestone. It’s 40 years since the first cases of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) were reported and the global epidemic began.
Much has changed in the treatment of AIDS since then, as well as in the way we as a society treat people with the HIV virus.
I’m very glad it is no longer seen as having a “death sentence” – as it was in the 1980s – and that treatments available on the NHS in Wales to ensure that those diagnosed with HIV are able to live a full and normal length life.
I hope the event this week will help to raise awareness of the continued need for testing. It has been shown that public health campaigns and media coverage can lead to an increase in testing. Some readers may have watched this year’s hit drama on Channel 4, ‘It’s A Sin’ – written by Swansea-born Russell T Davies – this led to a doubling of HIV tests ordered between December 2020 and March 2021.
Saturday the 4th of December marks this year’s Small Business Saturday. The aim of the campaign is to make a positive and lasting impact on small businesses. This is more important than ever this year as they try to recover from the economic shock of the pandemic.
The Welsh Labour Government has supported small businesses throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, providing the most generous and comprehensive package of assistance anywhere in the UK investing more than £1.7bn on Welsh schemes.
In June it also extended the 100% business rates discount for all businesses and charities in the leisure and hospitality sectors until April 2022.
The government can help, but individual buying power can also make a difference too. That’s why I’ve been supporting local businesses by shopping and eating locally and buying local produce whenever I can.
Evidence shows that if we all make an effort to shop locally this can have a big impact on small businesses in towns like Mold, Flint and Holywell. I think you’ll agree we are spoilt for choice locally so please join me in trying to buy as many Christmas presents as possible in our local towns this year.
This week I will be speaking in my ministerial capacity, as Deputy Minister for Social Partnership, at a TUC event in the Senedd on how we can all benefit from new technologies.
The event will include discussions on the use of new technology and how this is having an impact in the workplace.
Many people, myself included, have been working from home during the pandemic – and many will continue to do so, at least some of the time, in the future. So technology offers more flexible working for some and can be good for people living in rural areas who no longer have to commute long distances to their workplace.
But we must also be aware there are negative as well as positive consequences of the use of technology – and we must be wary that some without access to technology may be excluded. We need to think through the impacts of Artificial Intelligence on jobs of the future and data monitoring in the workplace.
As a long-time union member, and now in my ministerial role, I am keen to explore how technology can be used for fairer and better work opportunities for us now and in the future.
Last week I held a vigil in Daniel Owen Square in Mold to mark White Ribbon Day to highlight violence against women and girls. Despite the rain and cold I was really pleased that more than 40 members of the public attended along with Sarah Taylor, the mayor of Mold, the Deputy Chief Constable of North Wales Police, the Police and Crime Commissioner and a local WI representative.
Sadly, on that same day a 12-year-old girl, Ava White, was murdered in Liverpool shortly after attending her city’s Christmas lights switch-on. My heart goes out to Ava’s family and friends.
Nothing could make it more plain that we need to do more to eliminate violence against women and girls in our society. We can and we must do better.
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