By Mark Isherwood

MS for North Wales

As Chair of the Cross-Party Group on Deaf Issues (CPGDI) in the Welsh Parliament, I met the Head of Policy at the British Deaf Association (BDA) and the BDA Wales Manager to discuss the CPGDI’s work now that they have taken over as its new Secretariat.

We also discussed my proposed British Sign Language (BSL) (Wales) Bill, now that it has won the Member Bill Ballot. The barriers that exist for deaf people and their families in education, health, public services, support services and the workplace need to be removed.

The Welsh Government’s lack of progress in reducing the numbers of Autistic people and people with a learning disability locked up in Hospitals, Assessment and Treatment Centres and other settings was raised again in the Senedd. Having recently challenged the Welsh Government over this, I will be meeting with the Minister for Mental Health and Early Years to discuss the matter and possible ways forward.

As Learning Disability Wales have said: ‘Over 40 years ago, Wales was one of the first countries in the world to launch a strategy to get people with a learning disability out of long-stay hospitals and back into the community. The All Wales Strategy was radical and groundbreaking, yet 40 years on we seem to be going backwards and slipping towards re-institutionalisation, despite numerous policies and strategies over the years that quite clearly state people should be supported to live in their communities and not locked away in institutions’.”

As Chair of the Senedd Cross-Party Autism Group (CPAG) in the Welsh Parliament, I had an introductory meeting with the National Autistic Society’s new External Affairs Manager in Wales, who is also CPAG’s acting Secretary until his formal election to this role at our next meeting; attended meetings of the Welsh Parliament’s Cross-Party Groups on Co-operatives and Mutuals, which discussed ‘Community-led and co-operative models as a key housing solution’; on Older People and Ageing, which included a presentation on preventing the abuse of older people; and on the Armed Forces and Cadets; and had a meeting with the Welsh Refugee Council’s Housing Policy and Research Lead and the Coordinator for the Welsh Refugee Coalition.

I also visited Cats Protection’s impressive North Wales Adoption Centre in Wrexham, and in a meeting with the Wales Tourism Alliance discussed the current challenging times for tourist businesses, how important the tourism economy is to North Wales, and the raft of Welsh Government policies and regulations dominating concerns within the industry.

For my help, email or call 0300 200 7219.