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Step-up Cymru! Partnership scheme aimed at widening democratic participation gets underway

07 October 2009

The journey for the 33 successful applicants of an innovative mentoring scheme aimed at widening participation in democracy begins today (October 7th) at its launch at the National Assembly for Wales.

’Step Up Cymru’ will give participants from under-represented groups in Wales the chance to shadow local Councillors and Assembly Members over the next six months, in a bid to increase their involvement in the democratic process and community activities.

The scheme was announced in July and has been developed collectively by the Welsh Local Government Association, the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Assembly Government.

Participants will gain first-hand insight into all areas of local and national decision making, through attending public meetings and observing their mentors’ roles.

The scheme will also enable them to share their experiences of being under-represented at the political level with their mentors.

Mentees will be offered training and development opportunities during the scheme and will log their experiences in a ‘day in the life of’ diary, to document their democratic journeys.

“Applications for Step Up Cymru came from people across Wales, from different walks of life and with different interests and dreams, and I’m delighted to see such a variety of successful participants,” said Presiding Officer Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas.

“I hope that the 33 Mentees who stand with us today find this experience fulfilling and enjoyable, and that they go away inspired to engage further in democracy and encourage others to do the same”.

Cllr Lindsay Whittle (Caerphilly), WLGA Equalities Spokesperson and Step Up Cymru mentor said: “This scheme is a real opportunity for local government and members of the community to step up and work together.

“The positive response to the scheme has been overwhelming and I’m confident it will show how building links with communities can bring about positive change through engaging with politicians and the democratic process.

“This scheme is an opportunity for everyone involved to gain new experiences and to learn from each other which can only increase participants’ confidence, and show that under-represented communities have the power to bring about positive change to local government in Wales.’

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