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#Wales2016: Here's What Candidates Said About The Issues That Matter To Young People - In Cardiff North

Postiwyd gan cardiffyouthcouncil o Caerdydd - Cyhoeddwyd ar 04/05/2016 am 15:31
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We at Cardiff Youth Council (CYC) decided to question the Welsh Assembly candidates of Cardiff on issues raised by you, young people in Cardiff - ahead of 5th May's election.

Using these issues highlighted by young people, we devised a series of questions for each of Cardiff’s 28 Assembly Candidates representing 7 different parties, across four different constituencies, to record their responses in this Special 2016 Welsh Assembly Election Edition Shout-out.

Here are the responses for Cardiff North.

CYC have worked with young people across the city to highlight the following priorities in 2016:

·       A curriculum which prepares us for life

·       High quality mental health services

·       Tackling racism & religious discrimination

·       The Living Wage for all

·       A reduced voting age to 16 

“In no more than 500 words, please explain how you intend to address these issues if elected.”

Chris von Ruhland – Green Party

Thank you for asking me how I would address the issues that young people in Cardiff have raised. My responses are as follows:


Education should be free for all, for life. It is a civil right and I would oppose any attempt to privatise state-funded schools; education should not be for profit. Wherever you study, be it on an apprenticeship scheme, at university, or further education, it should equip you not just for the workplace, but for all aspects of life. It should include comprehensive sex education, first aid, how the legal system works, politics, personal finance, and mental healthcare to name but a few.

Mental health

Mental and emotional health should be given equal status to physical health in the planning, provision and monitoring of services. These must be fully funded, be available throughout Wales, including rural areas, and also be available through Welsh if people should so wish.

Delivery of mental health services should be integrated around the patient so that any other health issues are addressed at the same time.

Most importantly, the root causes of mental ill health needs to be addressed at source; we need to prevent both mental and physical ill health in the first place

Racism and religious discrimination

Racism and religious intolerance have no place in a civilised society.

They usually stem from ignorance, so critical thinking and, more importantly, self-critical thinking should be an important aspect of everybody's broader education; we should all be able to freely express our opinions, but we should also be required to defend them should they be challenged, and be prepared to change them when they are found wanting.


Wales Green Party wishes to introduce a universal basic income scheme to replace the unfair and bureaucratic benefits system that we have at present, to provide everybody with a financial foundation upon which to build their lives. We support a minimum wage, with no age restrictions, at £8.25 per hour and a living wage of 60% on average national earnings.

We would provide more support for younger people to start their own businesses and become self-employed.

Voting at 16

Young people should be encouraged to engage in the processes that affect their lives and one of the simplest ways to do this is to reduce the voting age to 16 and teach all students politics in schools. Politicians are more likely to engage with young people when they exercise this democratic right. Voting also engenders citizenship, social inclusion and education on key social issues.

The Wales Green Party is the only party in this election to publish a specific Youth Manifesto, as well as an LGBTIQ+ manifesto. These are manifestos written by the younger members of the party; written by the youth of Wales, for the youth of Wales with a view to encouraging young people to engage in the workings of our country and give them a better chance at life. 

Elin Walker Jones – Plaid Cymru

A native American proverb states that "We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children." Our children are our future. Our nation's future. Our planet's future.

Plaid Cymru has an ambitious set of plans for the future of Wales. Plaid Cymru is committed to the principle of treating everyone equitably, fairness of opportunity, what ever their colour, race, gender, age, language, sexual orientation and religion. Our vision for Wales has no place for discrimination on the basis of religion or race.

Plaid Cymru wants to build a well Wales, a well-educated Wales, a wealthy Wales. We have policies to improve education, involving teachers in the process of educational reform. We want to ensure that academic and vocational qualifications are equally valued.

However, education is not just about academic or vocational skills. I would like to see a Wales where we work to create a society where emotional health is promoted as a key aspect of growing up, and maintaining healthy relationships is valued in equal measure, if not more than academic or financial success. It amazes me that we can send people to the moon yet we still have wars and social strife! We should aim to create communities where people are supported to talk, supported to deal with their problems, and don't feel ashamed to share their feelings. We need to strengthen pastoral education, highlight the importance of emotional health skills, expand the schools support and counselling services, and encourage older pupils to support younger pupils. I am a school governor in a school where they are operate an open door policy that allows older pupils to provide informal support for younger pupils. I'd like to see that practice developed. These provisions help young people to develop a good sense of self esteem, and good mental health habits. Plaid Cymru has pledged to increase funding to CAMHS services and also increase mental health awareness and tackling stigma by including such issues as aspects of the educational curriculum. We need to champion the needs of children and young people's mental health needs so that all politicians understand these issues better. We know that it's crucial it is to support young people in creating and maintaining healthy relationships with other people, for long term personal health and happiness, as well as harmonious communities. Plaid Cymru will set up a Youth Parliament, to make sure that the voices of young people are heard, and a Youth Forum in every local authority. We also want to ensure that the Welsh Baccalaureate is fit for purpose for the 21st century, supporting young people to develop citizenship skills especially with regards to the Welsh democratic process. Plaid Cymru is fully committed to legislating in favour of votes at 16 years. Plaid Cymru is also absolutely committed to a Living Wage.

Fiona Burt - Independent

Thanks for your roles in promoting the youth council and engaging them in the election.

Education should equip young people for both citizenship and the workplace, but this learning does not all have to be done in a classroom. For instance, our youth are vital to the democratic process and need to be informed about the issues, understand the systems and be prepared to play their part as voters, lobbyists, and future politicians. I am delighted that the Youth Council is engaging its members in these Assembly elections and my teenagers are involved in my own campaign. For me, this is actually a far more important issue than lowering the voting age by two years.

Another part of education which is best tackled beyond the school gates is that of respect and consideration for others. All forms of discrimination, including racism and religious discrimination, need to be tackled. Attitudes are formed early in life and parents must instil the right values into their children. Integration is key because diversity needs to be seen as normal. This is a long-term plan, but one which we must adhere to if we are to live in a peaceful, multicultural society.

I’m concerned that constant changes to the curriculum, a focus on artificial targets and an overly-complex exam system have impacted the quality of education in our schools. The latest PISA results which rank Wales 40th out of 68 countries (below the rest of the UK) are not good enough. We need a curriculum that prepares our young people for life, but since that requirement is individual, I’d like to see it become more flexible and interesting for both teachers and pupils. In particular, I’d like pupils to have more choice over what they study at GCSE by removing the compulsory RE and Welsh exams.

1 in 10 young people suffer mental health problems. I’ve been involved with various projects to identify and treat teenagers who are likely to develop depression. A computerized cognitive behaviour therapy (cCBT) programme is being developed and I’d like to see it available to all young people as part of PSE lessons to raise awareness of mental health and provide support for those who are subsyndromal. We also need to increase the funding for CAMHS to reduce the waiting times for specialist treatment. I believe that mental health and well-being should be given the same consideration as physical health.

I support the living wage for all, including under-25’s, as I believe that a worker should be paid for the job that they are doing. I’m against all forms of discrimination, including age discrimination. However, the minimum wage currently offers a big incentive to employers to take on young people, so we would need to ensure that removing it does not make it more difficult to get that all-important first job. Also, we’d need to look carefully at alternative employment methods, for example, paper-rounds where you are paid per item, as well as apprenticeships, internships and ‘volunteer’ roles where you are paid little or nothing for the benefit of the experience.

Jayne Cowan – Conservatives

It’s an enormous privilege to be able to take part in this Cardiff Youth Council digital hustings. Social media plays a crucial part of my role as both a Councillor, and Assembly candidate, and events such as these are an important way to improve engagement.

To ensure a curriculum which provides opportunities appropriate to all, we would explore establishing university technical colleges, improving the status of vocational qualifications and bringing learners, institutions and businesses closer together.

We would also ensure teachers have more say over the development of the curriculum.

We’d empower the profession, placing a greater emphasis on funding schools directly and recognising the central role they should play in delivering a curriculum which prepares people for life. Access to education at all levels would be enhanced, both through investment into school transport and with University living costs; and we would seek to deliver broader opportunities for study – including on financial education, home economics and mandatory emergency life-saving skills.

Clearly, the next Welsh Government must ensure the importance of improving mental health and wellbeing is given greater prominence. We will increase spending on mental health services in real terms, and establish a new 28-day target for access to talking therapies by 2021. Welsh Conservatives would also promote mindfulness as a means of preventing poor mental health and supporting recovery, and will take action to tackle stigma, which still too often exists in relation to mental health. Additionally, the availability of 24/7 crisis teams at all major emergency departments in Wales is an important policy commitment.

Racism and religious discrimination are completely unacceptable and the next Welsh Government must act to stamp out this menace from our society. We will adopt a zero tolerance approach to hate crime and bullying, and take steps to introduce a more inclusive appointments policy. Broadly, we will utilise devolved lev-ers to support, and aid, the integration of asylum seekers and refugees seeking sanctuary.

I’m so proud that the Conservatives in UK Government have delivered a National Living Wage, which people across Wales have been benefitting from (from this April) for those over the age of 25, which will benefit 150,000 working people in Wales by 2020. We need to build on this, and our proposals for scrapping business rates for all small businesses, enhancing employment opportunities via employee incentive grants, and strengthening ties between the education, employment and local business sectors, will provide vital economic opportunities for all. The Conservative-inspired Cardiff City Deal also promises huge potential opportunities for young people across our capital city, and in the surrounding areas.

Welsh Conservatives in the Assembly have long endorsed a free vote on the issue of whether 16 and 17-year-olds should be able to vote. It is positive that this decision will soon be made for Assembly elections by the Assembly itself, but my own view currently is that the current voting age of 18 should be retained.

Julie Morgan – Labour

“Thank you for seeking my views on the very important issues below. If elected, I would tackle them in the way that I always do, with a determination to fight for fairness and to make sure the voices of young people are heard loud and clear.”

A curriculum which prepares young people for life

I think it's really important to teach young people the practicalities of budgeting for themselves, and also the value of saving and pensions. A new curriculum for Wales is being developed and there is an opportunity to make sure this is included. I'd also like to see education focus on bullying in schools including homophobic bulling. I'm pleased digital and coding skills for children is in the Labour manifesto. We'll also create Business Clubs to bring work experience into schools and re-shape careers support, and a Music Endowment Fund to help young people access music services and instruments.

High-quality mental health services

In my years as a politician – and before that as a social worker – I've always been prepared to act to help constituents with mental health problems.

The fact that more young people appear to be suffering from mental health problems than ever before is very worrying, and I think we need to do more to reduce the stigma around mental health issues through education. I'd like to see Welsh Labour continue to ring-fence the mental health budget and I support the recurrent funding of £1.9m announced this year to deliver psychological therapies – and the further £1.1m to improve access for children and young people.

The Living Wage for all

The UK Government's Living Wage goes some way towards improving incomes for people in low-paid jobs but I think it's terribly ageist that it only applies the over 25s. I will campaign to make sure it applies to young people too who are often starting out in jobs at the very bottom of the ladder and so are already among the least well-off in society. It is great that Labour in Wales has introduced a Living Wage for health service workers.

Tackling racism and religious discrimination

I'm proud to be an ambassador for UpRising Cymru which provides positive role models and mentoring for young people from black and ethnic minority communities, and from under-privileged backgrounds, to help them achieve their full potential. Britain is, sadly, one of the least socially mobile societies in the developed world – and this is reflected in the unrepresentative backgrounds of many of our leaders, including politicians of course. I've worked hard in my career to fight racism and champion equality and have a long-standing commitment to promoting rights for gypsies and travellers, children and women. I'm also a founder member of the Welsh Refugee Council. A reduced voting age to 16

I've been a supporter of votes at 16 since I was MP for Cardiff North and I presented the Voting Age Rduction Bill in 2007. Sadly it did not reach the final stage of becoming law. I've campaigned for votes at 16 ever since and it was great to see so many passionate young adults at the Assembly's Votes @16 conference last summer. It is my hope that the delayed Wales Bill will give the Assembly powers to lower the voting age which I would support wholeheartedly.

What is Cardiff Youth Council? Cardiff Youth Council is the official network for young people aged 11-25. We advocate for positive change in Cardiff to make the city a better place to live, work and play.

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Events // May 2016 theSprout Editorial Group (SEG) Meeting

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