21st February 2019 Norwegian Church and Arts Centre, Cardiff Bay
It was a lovely crisp, dry, sunny morning, in Cardiff Bay. The Norwegian Church and Arts Centre overlooks the Bay and is on the doorstep of the Senedd. I eagerly go into the building and see many people are already in attendance, both the mentors and mentees, as well as some of the guest speakers. There is a light buzz in the air, with chatter and excitement in the room, there were people from diverse communities mingling. I have been waiting for this day since I knew I was accepted onto the programme, I am keen to get started and experience an insight of being in the public life. We already knew who our mentors were before this day and I’ve already had my first meeting with my mentor and looking forward to shadowing her to gain knowledge and experience from this programme.
The event started off with Rocio Cifuentes (Director of EYST Wales) welcoming everyone and giving a brief introduction to the programme and what the day ahead will entail. Jane Hutt (Deputy Minister and Chief Whip) gave the opening speech about how those who are under-represented in Wales are being sought to fill in public appointments and giving people from minority backgrounds more opportunity to feel they are able to apply just like everyone else. This made me think back to when I graduated in Law and how difficult it was for me to get a training contract especially being from a minority background. It’s been over 10 years and not much has changed. This was reaffirmed when Sanjiv Vedi (Chair Welsh BAME Public Sector Network) gave his speech on the small numbers from minority backgrounds who represent Public Life. But Shavanah Taj (National Officer, Public and Commercial Services Union) defied the odds and was motivated to have a niche in Public Life.
During breaks there was an opportunity to network with other mentors and understand about their roles and share their experience of how to have an input in the community big or small. The afternoon talks started off with Professor Emmanuel Ogbonna (Cardiff University) who gave a thorough breakdown of how to gain the most from your mentor and benefit your career; he stressed the importance of networking and making yourself noticeable with key people. The closing speech was delivered by Vaughn Gethin (Minister for Health and Social Services) who shared his routes to Public Life and the benefits of this Programme.
I am looking forward to challenging myself and learning about the processes of being more involved in public life.
By: RBA, Mentee