Last Friday the First Minister reiterated his ‘Keep Wales Safe’ plea to us all, along with strong guidance that we should all follow in the run-up to Christmas in the face of a coming wave of omicron infections. The situation is fast-changing so the Welsh Government will keep the rules under review throughout the Christmas period.
In terms of changes last Friday, Mark Drakeford announced that nightclubs would be closed from December 27 and that the two-metre rule will apply once again in some workplaces – for those who cannot work from home. Those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to work from home should still do so.
Meanwhile we can all do our bit by limiting our social interactions in the run-up to Christmas. No one wants Christmas ‘cancelled’ but we can help keep our nearest and dearest safe by testing before meeting, limiting numbers and of course getting boosted and vaccinated.
The five simple steps being strongly recommended are:
Get vaccinated – and if you’ve had your booster appointment, please make attending your priority.
If you’re going out, going Christmas shopping or visiting people – flow before you go. Take a lateral flow test. If it’s positive – don’t go out.
Meeting outdoors is better than indoors. If you’re meeting indoors make sure it’s well ventilated.
Space out your socialising – if you’ve got events arranged, please leave at least a day between them.
And don’t forget about social distancing, wearing a face covering and washing your hands.
While the pandemic continues to dominate the headlines, a Welsh Government announcement about funding to ensure ‘no learner is left behind’ may have gone under the radar.
Additional funding of over £24m has been allocated to support school pupils who have felt the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic the most – to ensure no learner is left behind.
The funding includes £7.5m to support learners in exam years; £7m to support learners whose attendance has dropped during the pandemic; and £9.5m to support FE and Sixth Form learners with transition to the next stage of their education or career.
I’m pleased that the Welsh Government has fulfilled a manifesto promise to develop a ‘community bank’ for Wales – especially as have seen so many local bank branch closures in the last five years.
People still need banking services where they can deal with someone face to face – this applies particularly to some older people but small businesses too.
Monmouthshire Building Society will help deliver a community bank in Wales, with the aim of providing everyday full retail banking services in communities across Wales by 2023.
I hope this will provide a positive impact on our communities and high streets and I hope it improves access to financial help and support in locations that are convenient for residents across
Lastly, a new campaign calling on the public to challenge assumptions about harassment against women – often wrongly seen as ‘harmless’ – has launched across Wales.
‘Call out only’ aims to highlight how down-played actions like “I ‘only’ wolf-whistled at her” or “I ‘only’ slapped her bum” become much more sinister and the seriousness of the action seen when the word ‘only’ is removed.
Recent ONS statistics show two in three women aged 16 to 34 years experienced at least one form of harassment in the last year, with 44% having experienced catcalls, whistles, unwanted sexual comments or jokes. 29% felt like they were being followed.
The Welsh Government wants to help raise awareness amongst Wales’ different communities of the behaviours associated with different types of harassment and how they make the recipient feel.
They are calling on bystanders – particularly men – to call out inappropriate behaviour when and where safe to do so.
There is some particularly helpful advice as part of the campaign.
I hope this will empower men to call out abusive and sexist behaviour among their male friends and colleagues in a safe way – promoting a culture of equality and respect. Ways this can happen include:
- Arranging to meet the person involved privately to discuss what was said
- Not feeling pressured to laugh along to sexist conversations or ’banter’
- Asking questions like ‘what do you mean by that? What makes you think that?’
Get in touch and I’ll do my best to help
If you have an issue you’d like to speak to me about, I will do my best to help.