My time on placement with Dawn Bowden AM
Since September, I have been lucky enough to spend a day of my week in the Senedd with Dawn Bowden AM for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney. It has been a great experience that has furthered my interest into Welsh politics, and I would recommend taking up a placement, working or volunteering for an AM to everyone with an interest in politics.
Being in the Senedd and Ty Hywel each week has been immensely exciting.
I have attended meetings with Government Ministers and important stakeholders. Sitting in during a Valleys Task Force related discussion was particularly enlightening. I was somewhat taken aback by the passion, knowledge and appreciation these AMs had for their constituencies and the efforts made to make sure their constituents were listened to.
I have witnessed the inner workings of the legislative process and seen historic legislation pass. Not least votes for 16 and 17 year olds in Wales at the next Senedd elections in 2021. From the outside the detail of legislation may appear a little tedious, but I saw that it is in the process of scrutinising Welsh Ministers and debating amendments that important laws are shaped.
Working for Dawn has given me many opportunities, I even got to work with the First Minister Mark Drakeford for a morning. This included attending important briefings and seeing the behind the scenes work done for FMQs.
I have also had the chance to meet with the Assembly Commission’s’ Engagement Team to learn more about the many and various techniques they use to communicate and to consult with the people of Wales about the many topics that are part of Assembly Inquiries etc.
This also gave me a greater insight to the wide range of work opportunities in the wider Assembly. This involves many different roles for the staff of the Assembly Commission, and not just working as support staff to Assembly Members themselves.
I have also had the pleasure of visiting the constituency and learning about the history of Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney. I was given a guided tour of the stunning Valleys and will forever remember visiting important sites such as the Red House in Merthyr which I found fascinating. It is a building where Keir Hardie himself was welcomed as MP.
I also learnt about the fast pace of some events – in my first week there were unexpected job losses in the constituency and the need for Dawn to respond, chase up Welsh Government and partner organisations to help ensure those people affected received support. There was of course the ongoing discussions around the EU and Brexit, and even the snap UK General Election.
Each week I have experienced something new, whether it was writing a blog post, meeting a Minister or even splicing an ethernet cable. I am very grateful to Dawn for giving me these opportunities and I would recommend this experience to anyone who wants to get involved in politics.
Ioan Dobbin (Politics course, Cardiff University)