I have enjoyed the experience and hope to stay in touch with my mentor and whilst at this point I have no yearning to start a political career I have greater respect for those who have.
I now understand how Welsh local and national government interacts with UK national, depending on whether a power is or is not devolved. Furthermore, I am now aware of that Parliament is accessible to everyone.
I am honoured to have been selected as a mentee for the Step Up Cymru programme. It has provided me with the opportunity to better understand the Welsh and UK government. It has made me aware of how publicly accessible these governments are. I have shared – and will continue to share the experiences and skills that I have gained from the Step Up Cymru programme with people in my community and services users that I support at Race Equality First. It is my sincere hope that other people from minority backgrounds will have the opportunity to participate in a Step Up Cymru programme or something similar so that they can realise that government and its members are not inaccessible. The government is here for everyone to access and only through promotion of its accessibility will minority groups be made aware that they can play a key role in its functions. Step Up has helped me realise that one day perhaps I too could become an elected member of Parliament.
Step Up Cymru
Step Up Cymru
I want to thank ‘Step Up’ team for allowing me to be a part of this scheme, as without it I may not have had the discipline or impetus, to actually set out back on this track, which is one which I have always wanted to follow. My confidence has already soared, I’m feeling very much at home on the scheme, but I am also identifying the areas where I’m lacking insight.
Over the last few months I have learnt an enormous amount about the way that the Assembly and the Assembly Government work.
I came into this scheme with minimal knowledge of the political process. I came away from the scheme with a vast amount of knowledge, which now enables me to make choices and decisions relating to politics in a way I would never have thought before.
In political life I have become more discerning about what I hear via media reports, and have a more open, wider view of political issues whilst remaining true to my previous political beliefs.
I have joined a political party, I am an assembly candidate for May 2011, I will be a city council candidate in 2012.
Since the end of the scheme I have become the Chairperson of Carmarthenshire Disability Coalition for Action.
Since joining the scheme I have had increasing numbers of community members come to me with the expectation that I can find information and act as a mediator with public bodies.
I am more confident and I have learnt the importance of networking and how to network more effectively. I manage meetings more effectively. I have a better understanding of government, the jargon used and I am better able to talk in the same way. I have learnt to be more critical of policy, and to be able to analyse issues.
A huge amount of self confidence and self belief, if those are skills. I improved on my listening skills, and think more carefully about what I am going to say – the words I will use, rather than content, before I speak, to make sure I present myself as knowledgeable and informed. I also gained the ability to speak with people in authority with some authority of my own.
I have gained an immense amount of confidence, the ability to discuss and negotiate. I am not afraid to speak out!
I learnt not to judge a politician by their media image.
If you had told me 12 months ago I would be where I am now, I simply would not have believed you.
With this scheme I have been on such a journey, I have learnt and grown so much...yet I have so much more to learn and do! My life is heading in a completely new direction and I am extremely happy with it.