It was incredibly moving this week to see the scenes outside Parliament as 400 freelance musicians gathered to protest at the UK Government’s lack of support for the music industry during the pandemic. Our creative industries contribute a staggering amount to the UK economy – according to a UK Government press release from earlier this year, they contributed almost £13 million to the UK economy every hour before this pandemic and were growing more than 5 times faster than the national economy. It would be an act of monumental cultural vandalism if the UK Government allowed the industry to collapse and thousands of jobs be lost. The pandemic has shown us the importance of this industry, not only for our economy but also for our wellbeing.
In Wales this week, the Welsh Government have made an extra £80 million available to help businesses deal with the challenges of coronavirus of which £20 million is designated for use in the tourism and hospitality sector. This is an incredibly hard time for the tourism and hospitality sector, especially in those areas with increased restrictions, and so it is welcome news that the Welsh Government are working to support this sector. Tourism and hospitality are incredibly important to the Welsh economy with tourists in normal times spending around £17 million a day whilst on holiday in Wales. We must ensure that this sector is able to get back up and running and back to normal as soon as this crisis has passed. For more information on the business grants available and to check eligibility, visit the Business Wales website here.
At the start of the week we marked World Teachers’ Day and I want to take this opportunity to thank all the wonderful teachers and teaching assistants in our schools across Neath who have done so much to support the return of pupils to schools in very difficult times. Their care of our children will be so much more important in this academic year as students try to manage with the changes that have happened in their lives. Many will find the new restrictions a little bewildering and not understand why they cannot see grandparents or friends as often as they would like, why they cannot do the same activities in the same way they did before. Our teachers form a crucial part in our children’s education; they are also an important part in their pastoral care. Thank you for all the work that you do and good luck for the academic year ahead.
It will come as no surprise to you that sport and exercise is very important to me. I have very much missed playing squash during the pandemic and am always keen to see young girls find the same enjoyment in sport that I have. Women in Sport have found that currently only 42% of teenage girls meet physical activity guidelines, with just under a third (32%) inactive, engaging in less than 30 minutes of physical activity per day. Mothers are also reluctant to allocate time for their own physical activity, busy as they are running around after everyone else. Women in Sport have come up with a fantastic campaign, #TimeTogether, to encourage teenage girls and their mothers to spend some important quality time together whilst partaking a range of physical activities. The relationship between mother and daughter is such an important one and I love this idea of fostering a love of sport along with continuing that great relationship. Have a look at the Women in Sport website and their social media feeds for ideas of ways to spend your time together in a physically active way.
Saturday is World Mental Health Day and this year it’s more important than ever that we recognise the importance of looking after our mental health and spot the signs of declining mental health. There has been too much stigma for too long around mental ill-health, with conditions such as depression and anxiety seen as weakness or attention-seeking and conditions such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia not understood. We need to develop the conversation and start really thinking about our wellbeing. Our mental health is just like our physical health – there are things we can do to support it and there are external factors that interfere with it. For those experiencing mental health difficulties, I would encourage you to reach out – there are plenty of organisations who are there to support you, including Mind. There are ideas on the website for supporting your mental health and contact details for when you need outside help. Please do not suffer in silence and talk to someone today.
As always, if you have any questions or issues and want to get in touch, please do not hesitate to drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01639 630152. My staff are working from home to comply with the social distancing measures, but, as always, we remain there should you need to get in contact with us.
I hope you stay well, enjoy the weekend, and remember – observe social distancing, wash your hands regularly and keep Wales safe!