Welsh National Health Service: Happy Birthday!

By Niamh Mannion

2018 marks the 70th birthday of one of the UK and Wales’s most treasured institutions: the NHS. The National Health Service, which turned 70 on the 5th July this year, was founded by Welshman Aneurin Bevan. Here at WCIA, we want to look back at the legacy of Aneurin Bevan and appreciate the incredible work done by the doctors and nurses, past and present in the Welsh NHS. Everyone at WCIA wishes the NHS a very happy birthday!

The Mastermind: Anuerin Bevan

Bevan was born in Tredegar, South Wales, the son of a coalminer. As a teenager Aneurin exhibited an early aptitude for politics, becoming a trade union activist. In 1919 until 1921, he attended a trade union supported college in London – The Central Labour College, where he read economics, politics and history.

After returning home to Wales, he faced a spell of unemployment until 1926 when he was employed as a paid union official. In 1928, Bevans fortunes continued to improve, winning a seat on Monmouthshire County Council. His rise continued when he was picked to represent and won as the Labour Party candidate for Ebbw Vale in the 1929 general election. As a sitting MP, Bevan was highly critical of Winston Churchill.

Following the conclusion of WW2, Bevan believed peacetime would allow the UK a fresh start and opportunity to create “a new society”. In 1945, the Labour party won the general election with a landslide victory. The new governments victory, was based upon a programme of expansive social reforms known as the ‘welfare state’. Bevan was named Minister for Health by Prime Minister Clement Attlee. At the heart of the new ‘welfare state’ was the National Health Service. The NHS was launched by Aneurin Bevan on the 5th July 1948. Bevan centred the three core principals of the NHS to be “that it meets the needs of everyone, that it be free at the point of delivery, and that it be based on clinical need, not ability to pay”. He further remarked “no society can call itself civilised if a sick person is denied medical aid because of lack of means”.

In 1951, Bevan was appointed Minister of Labour. However, no sooner had he been appointed than he resigned, in protest to Hugh Gaskells introduction of prescription charges for dental care and glasses. Bevan professional success was never to return to such legendary highs. He was elected Deputy Leader of the Labour party in 1959, however he died the following year, at the aged of 62. Bevan was a true visionary. Not only did he recognise the inequality and poverty experience by so many – he did something about it. His legacy of the National Health Service is truly revolutionary.

Wales and the NHS: A Special Connection

The National Health Service welcomed its first baby at Glanamman Cottage Hospital in West Wales at one minute past midnight on the 5th July 1948. The baby in question, named Aneira (the female form of Aneurin) after founder of the NHS Aneurin Bevan. Since 1948, the NHS in Wales has gone onto deliver over 2,500,000 babies.

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The NHS currently provides healthcare to the three million residents of Wales. In a year, the NHS in Wales will prescribe over 80,000,000 prescriptions and carry out over 17,000,000 GP appointments. The Welsh NHS will carry out 4,375 hip replacement operations per year, 547,090 dental fillings per year and 459,225 ambulance call outs per year. NHS Wales also deals with 1,003,710 A&E attendances every year, which works out to around 2,750 daily A&E attendances.

The values of the NHS at its foundation in 1948, still underpin the NHS in Wales today. However, the un-quantifiable changes in medical technology, increased expectations and a growing elderly population has proved challenging along with the limited budget of health care.

NHS: WCIA says thank you!

As a WCIA volunteer, I would like to extended the warmest birthday wishes to the NHS! We’d also love to thank the NHS for their phenomenal care of all their patients over the last seventy years.

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#WW100 Weekend – The Story of Wales’ Book of Remembrance

Visit and search Wales’ Book of Remembrance online at www.BookofRemembrance.Wales / www.LlyfryCofio.Cymru  

Wales’ Temple of Peace and Health, home of the Welsh Centre for International Affairs and the HLF-funded ‘Wales for Peace’ project, was built as the nation’s memorial to the fallen of World War One – a memorial that would inspire future generations to learn from the conflicts of the past, to chart Wales’ role in the world, and to work towards peace.

100 years ago this weekend, the world said ‘Never Again’ to conflict, as the Armistice Bells tolled on 4 years that had wiped out a generation.  A nation in agony of grief and mourning braced to rebuild, and to build a better world.

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100 years later, the red poppies of military remembrance – as well as the white poppies for peace, black poppies for BME communities, and purple poppies for animals lost in war – all mark the minute’s silence at 11am on 11.11, poppies for people of all perspectives.

But on #WW100, our poppies of all colours also remember those who have fallen and been left behind by a century of conflicts since – WW2, Spain, Korea, Colonial Wars, the Cold War, Vietnam, Falklands, Gulf, Balkans, War on Terror, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria… What has the world really learned from Remembrance? To glorify war… or to prevent it?

Davies Family of Llandinam

The Davies Family of Llandinam

Differing attitudes to confronting conflict are not new. Through WW1, the Davies family of Llandinam in Powys would have had dinner table debates that represented the cross-section of society. Grandchildren of the Welsh industrialist David Davies:

Book of Remembrance Cover

Creation of the Book of Remembrance

In the early 1920s, as families grappled with the Aftermath of WW1 and their loss, memorials sprang up Wales-wide. A Welsh National War Memorial was proposed for Alexandra Gardens in Cathays Park. The 35-40,000 names of Wales’ fallen were to be inscribed in a beautiful Book – Wales’ WW1 Book of Remembrance – that would become a work of art, a national treasure and a place of pilgrimage.

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The Book is the work of world-renowned calligrapher Graily Hewitt, working closely it is thought with the Davies sisters and their Gregynog Press artists. A great nationwide effort was made to gather the names of the fallen; and a team of women in Midhurst, Sussex worked over several years to complete the Book.

The Davies sisters and the Gregynog Press had a mission to create books of high art and beauty. Bound in Moroccan Leather, with Indian Ink and Gold Leaf on pages of Vellum, the fine illumination techniques were a revival of Mediaeval skills.

View Flickr Album of the Book of Remembrance in the Temple of Peace

Screenshot 2018-11-10 at 18.11.30 1917 Caernarfon RfP Book of Remembrance Hedd Wyn - Ellis Evans closeup 1

“this Book of Souls, reposed upon a stone of French Marble, encased in Belgian Bronze, illuminated individually, painstakingly by hand in Indian Ink and the finest Gold Leaf upon handcrafted Vellum… bound in a volume of Moroccan Leather, entombed in a sanctuary of Portland Stone and Greek collonades. It seemed as if the whole Empire were as one in the creation of this memorial to those whose loss must live forever.” 

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The 1,205 pages of 35,000 names were completed in March 1928; and the Book was signed, on 12 June 1928, by Edward Prince of Wales – the future King Edward VIII – on a page emblazoned ‘Er Cof’ – In Memory. It was formally unveiled to the public on 11.11, 1928 – the 10th Anniversary of the Armistice – at the opening of Wales’ National War Memorial in Alexandra Gardens, Cardiff. For the first decade, the Book was held at the National Museum of Wales. But its creation had inspired a greater mission.

Wales’ Peacebuilding movements had been particularly active through the 1920s on the international stage. Lord David Davies had a vision that Wales should lead the world in the realisation of Peace, enshrined in bricks and mortar – by building the first in what was hoped would be a string of ‘Temple’s of Peace’ around the world.

1930 Temple proposed cross-sections

A Temple of Peace

Leading architects were invited to design a building that would both hold the Book of Remembrance, and inspire future generations – and in 1929, Cardiff architect Percy Thomas was commissioned to design Wales’ Temple of Peace, on land given by Cardiff Corporation. After a slow start during the Great Depression, in 1934 Lord Davies gave £60,000 of his own money to get the project off the ground.

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In April 1937, the Foundation Stone was laid to great ceremony in Cathays Park, Cardiff, by Lord Halifax – one of the leading ‘peace politicians’ of the time. But the late 1930s were troubled times; the post-WW1 ‘Peace Reparations’ that had crippled Germany, had led Hitler to power – and Lord Halifax, working hard to avoid war at all costs, would go down in history as an ‘appeaser’ (although this is a perhaps unfair and simplistic view of his peace building attempts). But even as the Temple was under construction, sandbags and bomb shelters were being constructed on the streets either side.

“A New Mecca – the Opening of Wales’ Temple of Peace and Health” Blog Piece by Dr. Emma West for the ‘Being Human Festival’.

Screenshot 2018-11-10 at 18.54.14 1938 Crowds for Opening of Temple of Peace

In Nov 1938, the Temple of Peace was opened by ‘Mother of Wales’ Minnie James from Dowlais, Merthyr Tydfil, who had lost 3 sons in WW1 – representing the bereaved mothers of Wales. She was accompanied by representatives of mothers from across Britain and the Empire, identified through the British Legion and local Press campaigns. The Temple sought to champion equality from the outset – although the opening ceremony was very much ‘of its time’, as the women were not able to write their own speeches.

The inclement weather of the opening day, and the umbrellas of the massive crowds assembled to watch, were a poignant reminder that storm clouds loomed over Europe. It would be only months later that WW2 finally broke out.

View Video of Press Cuttings from the 1938 Opening of Wales’ Temple of Peace

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“We will Remember Them” by BBC’s Huw Edwards, Nov 2018, features 3 minutes on the Temple of Peace and Book of Remembrance (from 38.30)

A Place of Pilgrimage

Despite the outbreak of war, the Temple of Peace became a place of pilgrimage for people from all over Wales. In an era when travelling to France, Belgium or even further afield was beyond the reach of most working people, community groups and schools Wales-wide would organise ‘pilgrimages’ to visit the Book of Remembrance. These visits were often promoted extensively in local newspapers.

Screenshot 2018-11-10 at 19.50.03.png The Crypt in 1938

At 11am every morning, a page of the Book would be turned – the names announced in the press the week beforehand, so that relatives could come to witness the ceremony as their loved ones were spotlighted. Visitors would take part in a beautiful, solemn yet forward looking Service of Remembrance, compiled by the Davies Sisters of Gregynog – and would sign a visitors book pledging their allegiance to pursuit of peace.

After WW2 another generation of Welsh men and women had fallen; and a WW2 Book of Remembrance was commissioned. Though intended to reside alongside the WW1 Book, for reasons lost to history it has remained hidden from view and access within the archives of the National Museum of Wales. As recent as 1993, architectural plans were drawn up to adapt the Hall of the Temple of Peace to display both books side by side. But to date, they have never been united, and this remains an aspiration of the Welsh Centre for International Affairs (WCIA) to this day.

As the survivors of the WW1 generation grew older – and as overseas travel has become easier – visitors to the Book of Remembrance grew lesser over the years. The Book, and the Temple, has been visited by such luminaries as Peres de Cuellar, Secretary General of the United Nations, in 1984; and Desmond Tutu in 2012. But by 2014, it seemed the Book of Remembrance had been largely… forgotten?

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Remembering for Peace – 2014-18

In 2014, WCIA alongside 10 national partners developed the ‘Wales for Peace’ project, funded by HLF and supported by Cymru’s Cofio / Wales Remembers, which aimed to mark the centenary of WW1 by exploring one big question:

“How, in the 100 years since WW1, had the people of Wales contributed to the search for peace?” 

As guardians of the Temple of Peace, WCIA’s project started with making the Book of Remembrance accessible again to the public. The aim was to create a travelling exhibition – uniting the Book for the first time with the communities Wales-wide from whom its 35,000 names originated; and to digitise the book, so it could be accessible online to future generations.

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Transcription of the book was launched on Remembrance Day 2015 with an event at the Senedd, Cardiff Bay, where Assembly Members were invited to view the book and transcribe the first names. A nationwide call was launched for volunteers, schools and community groups to participate in a ‘Digital act of Remembrance’.

Local workshops, from Snowdonia to Swansea, enabled people to be part of ‘making history’. Schools developed ‘hidden histories’ projects discovering the stories behind the names, an experience that proved deeply moving for many as they connected to people long forgotten.

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Exhibition Tour

The Remembering for Peace Exhibition was launched in the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth in January 2016. It has travelled onwards to:

At each exhibition venue, local partners have worked with community groups to draw out diverse local stories, so every exhibition has been different. A Schools Curriculum Pack, ‘Remembering for Peace’ is available on Hwb, and a Hidden Histories Guide for Volunteer Groups has been widely used beyond the Wales for Peace project.

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The Book of Remembrance Online

For Remembrance Day 2017, WCIA and the National Library of Wales were delighted to unveil the completed digital Book of Remembrance and search functionality online at www.BookofRemembrance.Wales / www.LlyfryCofio.cymru.

This is not only a hugely symbolic act of remembrance in itself, but a great credit to over 350 volunteers who contributed towards transcribing the Book to make it accessible for future generations. Their outstanding contribution was recognised when the National Library was bestowed the prestigious Archives Volunteering Award for 2016.

A curious discovery from the digitising process has been the question of ‘how many died’? Most history references – including about the creation of the Book of Remembrance – quote 35,000 as being the number of men and women of Wales who fell in WW1. But just under 40,000 names (39,917) emerged from the transcription data – which suggests Wales’ losses may have been even greater than previously thought.

Soldiers Stories

The undoubted power of the Book of Remembrance is that behind every beautifully illuminated, gilded name, lies a life story – from the famous, to the ordinary, to the comparatively unknown.

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Hedd Wyn (Ellis Humphrey Evans), Welsh poet and peace icon, who died in Passchendaele just days before attaining the crown of the National Eisteddfod. His prize, forever known as the ‘Black Chair’ and his home farm, Yr Ysgwrn, now a place of pilgrimage in Snowdonia for people learning about WW1, Welsh culture and Peace building. His nephew, Gerald Williams, has kept the doors open and Hedd Wyn’s memory alive, and planted the last poppy at Caernarfon Castle for the opening of the 14-18NOW Weeping Window art work in October 2016.

Screenshot 2018-11-10 at 18.55.10.pngAlfred Thomas from St David’s was serving in the Merchant Navy when his ship, the S S Memnon, was torpedoed. 100 years later, his granddaughter, Gwenno Watkin, was one of the National Library volunteers transcribing the Book of Remembrance when she suddenly came face to face with his name – and went on to discover more about his loss in WW1.

Screenshot 2018-11-10 at 18.54.57.pngJean Roberts, Eva Davies, Margaret Evans and Jennie Williams were all nurses with the Queen Mary’s Auxiliary Corps, who died serving in the field hospitals of France and Belgium. The story of women, war and peace has traditionally been overlooked among ranks of male soldiers – but their stories inspired creation of the Women, War and Peace exhibition, and Women’s Archive Wales’ ‘Women of WW1’ project.

The Beersheba Graves. Eli Lichtenstein is a volunteer in North Wales who grew up in Israel. He was astonished to realise that he recognised many names in the Book of Remembrance from growing up as a child, and discovered that many of the men who fell in the Battle of Beersheba, in former British Palestine, were Royal Welsh Fusiliers from the Llandudno & Bangor area. Read Eli’s Blog Story.

Screenshot 2018-11-10 at 18.54.47.pngDavid Louis Clemetson served with the Pembroke Yeomanry, and is one of many Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Welsh people, as well as those across Britain’s former empire, who lost their lives in WW1. In 2018, for WW100 the Temple of Peace hosted a BME Remembrance Service where the Welsh Government for the first time recognised the sacrifices and losses of Wales’ BME communities in successive British wars.

Screenshot 2018-11-10 at 18.54.39.pngEveryone has a personal story; and Head of Wales for Peace Craig Owen was moved both to discover his own great grandfather, Ally Price’s story, and following a visit to his memorial in Tyne Cot, Belgium, created a short film for his family as he found out more about the ‘man behind the name’ from Radnor, Tredegar and Herefordshire.

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David James from Merthyr Tydfil, who worked in the drawing office at Dowlais Colliery, served with the Welsh Guards until he was killed in action in October 1916. His two brothers also died from WW1 war injuries, as well as two sisters from cholera. Their mother, Minnie James, was chosen to open Wales’ Temple of Peace & Health in Cardiff in 1938 in their memory.

Video – Minnie James opens the Temple of Peace in 1938.

For the WW100 Armistice weekend, the Temple of Peace remembers all those who fell in the ‘war that was to end war’ – and all those who survived, and gave their all to build peace in the years that followed. Their mission remains as relevant today as ever.

Listen to more:

Explore the Book of Remembrance for yourself:

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Jonah Jones, artist and conscientious objector

By Peter Jones

My father, the artist Jonah Jones (1919-2004), was effectively a lifelong pacifist. As with many things, including religion, he was a doubter, but he never quite renounced his principles, for he hated war, having witnessed its dreadful depredations.

Len portrait 1944.jpegHis father Norman served in the Great War at Gallipoli and on the Western Front. Wounded at Vimy Ridge in 1917, he was invalided out. Norman felt some bitterness about his war experiences, and always tried to ignore Remembrance Day. Clearly this had some effect on his son’s views. Then in late 1935 Jonah got a post as an assistant at Felling public library near his home on Tyneside. The librarian, Mona Lovell, was a convert to the Society of Friends and under her influence Jonah became interested in Quakerism. She became an intellectual and cultural mentor to him, helping to focus his reading and introducing him to new artistic experiences like classical music concerts, ballet and theatre. Mona played a vital part in Jonah’s development, and the two became close friends.

Jonah came to feel that he must do all he could as an individual to prevent another war. He joined the Peace Pledge Union and sold Peace News on the streets. Following the outbreak of the Second World War he was registered as a conscientious objector. In October 1940 he was sent to Exmoor to work as a forester, beginning almost three and a half years working on the land which took him also to Kircudbrightshire in south-west Scotland and Wensleydale in North Yorkshire. Mona and Jonah began a regular correspondence that continued until the late 1940s, when life took them in different directions. She kept all his letters, a selection of which, edited by me, is to be published this autumn by Seren Books.

Jonah’s letters during this time give a clear picture of life as a conscientious objector. The worst experience was his two months on Exmoor. The group of COs of which he was part was treated badly, underfed and made to work in sodden clothes that did not dry from the previous day’s soaking. The locals in a deeply conservative area were openly hostile, “waiting for the slightest excuse to beat us up, for we are hated in this valley, we know it only too well”. Solidarity between the COs soon broke down – Jonah describes a vicious row between Christadelphians and Plymouth Brethren. The four months in Scotland were better, at least initially. He lived in an isolated shepherd’s bothy with a small group of fellow COs in what he described as “six lads living out Communism in its simplest & most wholesome form”.

In Wensleydale, where he spent by far the longest time, Jonah was on the whole treated quite decently by people. He fell in with the Castle Bolton group of artists, who mentored him in his first uncertain steps towards a career in the arts (he grappled with watercolour painting during these years). Briefly he came under suspicion from the local policeman, who dimly thought this young man sketching landscapes and churches might be a spy, until Jonah got a permit from the area superintendent.

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A crisis in his personal life in May 1943, and sheer exhaustion from constant tree felling (no power saws then), brought Jonah to a drastic reappraisal. He decided to enlist in the armed forces, but without renouncing his refusal to bear arms. He was finally called up eight months later and was drafted into the Non-Combatant Corps. Here he spent a dreary and frustrating eight months moving about sacks of flour and similar material.

Jonah was rescued from this in October 1944 when he was accepted into 224 Parachute Field Ambulance, part of the 6th Airborne Division. This was what he had been aiming for when he enlisted. He saw action in the Ardennes and Germany, and was among the first to enter the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, spending a couple of days treating the sick and dying there. Jonah never had the slightest doubt that he had done the right thing by joining 224 PFA. He helped to save lives and heal the wounded, German as well as Allied. He was proud of his work and besides, he became friends with a number of artists, writers and designers who were fellow members of the unit. It was during this period that he decided conclusively to pursue a career in the arts after demobilization.

Jonah went on to spend almost two years stationed in Palestine during the final stages of the British Mandate. He became increasingly disillusioned with government policy towards Jewish refugees. The letters end with Jonah settled in Wales and establishing himself as a full-time sculptor and lettercutter.

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Jonah’s letters to Mona Lovell tell a fascinating story of life in wartime, both among civilians and in the Army. They also portray the remarkable people with whom he was close friends – poets, painters and others as well as the redoubtable Mona. Above all the letters are a significant record of one man’s experience as a conscientious objector in the Second World War, and make for rewarding reading.

 

Dear Mona: Letters from a Conscientious Objector by Jonah Jones, edited by Peter Jones

Ten Years of Independence: All about Kosovo and the challenges to come

By Georgina Whiteman

The Republic of Kosovo is a disputed territory and partially-recognised state in South-east Europe that declared independence from Serbia on the 17th February 2008. Kosovo has been conquered by the Byzantine, Bulgarian and Serbian Empires, part of the Ottoman Empire and then more recently, part of Yugoslavia. Its long history has led to confusion over borders, questions of its legitimacy, and an array of languages and cultures muddled up into one small land-locked country. Much like Wales, it has spent much of its history fighting for its autonomy and rights, and much like Wales, has come out a success story. But just who exactly is Kosovo, and why is it deemed Europe’s youngest and fastest growing economy?

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Kosovo is an Albanian majority country, with 93% of the population identifying as Albanian. Minority groups consist of Serbs (predominantly in the North, Montenegrins, Romani, Bosniaks, Croats and Turks. During the 1999 Kosovo War, over 70,000 ethnic Albanians, 10,000 ethnic Serbs and 7,000 ethnic Bosniaks were forced out to neighbouring countries. Many of the ethnic Albanians returned following the United Nations taking over administration of Kosovo after the war. The main languages are Albanian and Serbian, with Bosnian also an increasingly popular language. It considers itself a secular country, in which the two main religions are Christianity and Islam. Kosovo has had a dark history, and still today faces many socioeconomic and political issues.

Kosovo is a transition lower-middle income economy, having seen solid economic growth in the past decade and being one of only four countries in Europe to experience growth in every year since the 2008 financial crisis. Kosovo’s growth model is heavily reliant on remittances to fuel domestic consumption, particularly due to the extremely low average monthly wage (€304) and lack of employment opportunities. In recent years, Kosovo has received an influx of foreign direct investment, seen developments in its financial and technological sectors, and increased exports significantly. Kosovo’s main exporting partners are Italy, Albania, Macedonia, Switzerland, Montenegro and Germany, and its key exports are metals, mineral products, textiles, packaged foods, plastic and rubber. In more recent years, the wine production in Kosovo has grown and has started to be traded with Germany and the US, as well as smaller countries within the region.

A Brief History of Kosovo

1st Century AD Romans gain control of the area, populated by Dardani people.

 

6th Century Slavs begin to settle in the area, which slips from Roman/Byzantine control and becomes a disputed border.

 

12th Century Serbia gains control of Kosovo – which becomes the heart of the Serbian empire, seeing the construction of many Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries.

 

1389 Battle of Kosovo leads to 500 years of Turkish Ottoman rule.

 

1912 Balkan Wars lead to Serbia regaining control of Kosovo from the Turks.

 

1946 Kosovo is absorbed into the Yugoslav Federation.

 

1974 Yugoslav constitution recognises the autonomous status of Kosovo, giving the province de facto self-government.

 

1990 Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic strips Kosovo of its autonomy and imposes Serbian administration, prompting Albanian protests.

 

1991 Start of the violent break-up of Yugoslavia. Kosovar Albanians launch passive resistance movement but fail to secure independence.

 

1996 The rebel Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) start attacking Serbian authorities in Kosovo, which see’s retaliation in form of a Serbian crackdown.
1999 NATO implements a 78-day air campaign on Serbia due to international effort failing to stop the Kosovo conflict. Yugoslav and Serbian forces respond with ethnic cleansing against Kosovar Albanians. Following a peace agreement, Yugoslav and Serbian forces withdraw from Kosovo and a UN sponsored administration take over.

 

2008 Kosovo unilaterally declares independence.

 

2012 Group of countries overseeing Kosovo since 2008 end its supervisory roles, but NATO-led peacekeepers and EU rule-of-law monitors remain.

 

2013 Kosovo and Serbia reach landmark agreement on normalising relations which grants high degree of autonomy to Serb-majority areas in the North, with both sides agreeing not to block each other’s efforts to seek EU membership.

 

Transparency International ranks Kosovo as one of the worst countries in Europe for corruption perception, significantly lower than many developing countries. There is much dissatisfaction with the war-time politicians still in power in Kosovo, due to many unresolved allegations of war crimes and abuse. Tensions with Serbia are still rife, with the occasional conflict arising in the North, particularly in Mitrovica, a melting point of cultures divided by the New Bridge over the Ibar river.

A 2016 estimate predicted that Kosovo has a population of 1.816 million people, in which roughly half are under the age of 25, according to the UNDP. Youth unemployment reaches a global low, with over 60% of young people unemployed. Education attainment is low, and most young people attend mono-ethnic classes in which all staff and students belong to the same ethnic group. The Kosovan economy generates only half the required jobs to keep up with the amount of young people entering the work force – and with poor education standards, low education attainment and segregated schools, young unemployment only seeks to grow until the Kosovan government and policy makers implement change.

Roughly 190,000 Kosovans are thought to have left Kosovo since its independence declaration in 2008. Hundreds of thousands of Kosovans left prior to this, seeking refugee due to the Kosovo War and the following unstable and corrupt political climate, with many seeking refuge in Germany and Switzerland. 50% of Kosovo’s youth stating intention to emigrate if the strict and unpopular EU visa regime changed. Migrants send money back to their family in Kosovo, in which these remittances account for approximately 15.6% of total GDP – one of the most remittance dependent countries in the world. Whilst remittances benefit the recipient due to the increase in disposable income, they further inequality due to their inflationary impact on the local economy, and their use for luxury consumption as opposed to infrastructural investment. Many migrants frequently return to Kosovo, and express dissatisfaction with the current state of the country due to the high rates of corruption and lack of representation for the Diaspora. The purpose of the establishment of the Ministry of Diaspora in 2011 was to research the causes of migration, and to represent the interests of expatriates as well as to offer representation for them to directly influence government affairs.

Whilst we celebrate ten years of Kosovo, and its booming growth in the face of 2008 and its ongoing fight for international recognition, there are still many issues that need facing. Although the main battles are over, the war is not yet finished and with the help of international organisations and development funds, its wholly possible for Kosovo to come out as a beacon of hope from the ashes of former Yugoslavia. For such a young economy, we need to aid in developing employability skills in the youth, matching jobs to seekers, and aiding ascension into the EU to enable the youth of Kosovo to access an international network of employment and education opportunities. We need to hold those accused of war crimes accountable and aid the government in reducing corruption and increasing transparency for its country. Finally, we need to connect the Diaspora, to develop a network that aids Kosovo in its development in more ways than foreign aid ever could – through the transfer of finance, skills, culture, education and political power.

The ghost in the attic

By Mari Lowe

When I first started working at the Temple of Peace, it wasn’t long before I was told about the ghost in the attic.  Some people swear they’ve heard strange noises and felt an unusual presence, beyond the first floor.  Given that one of my jobs was to dig around in the archive up there, I quickly brushed it aside, and told myself that it would be peaceful working amongst the rafters, rather than scary. 

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Temple opening 1938.  In the front row, third from the left, is Minnie James who was selected to represent those mothers of Wales who had lost children in World War 1.

Initially, working with the archive was frustrating, as it’s currently uncatalogued, making it difficult to find anything specific.  Also, as an institutional archive, some of the material can look a little dry at first glance (imagine minutes, accounts, etc.), so it took a lot of patience to understand the content and to begin drawing out engaging stories.

But after a few very dusty afternoons, I started to understand the Temple’s past.  We have documents and objects going right back to the 1910s, actually predating the Temple.  This includes ledgers from the Welsh National Memorial Association and publications by the Welsh League of Nations Union, both of which were given a home at the Temple when it opened in 1938.

Here on the Wales for Peace team, we are also working with various partners to open up the archive and to tell the story of the building, ready for our 80th anniversary celebrations in November.  We recently had a great sharing session with some of our creative partners and I selected some gems from the archive to help get the ideas flowing…

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In the wood-panelled Council Chamber, Bethan, John, Tracy, Emma and Mari, get stuck into some archive material.

One of the items which really caught our attention was a set of original photographs of the Temple opening ceremony in 1938.  Dr Emma West has been researching the story behind the opening ceremony but had never seen these beautiful snaps of the day itself.  The publicity campaign was, in fact, handled by a London-based PR firm. 

We also loved the menu card from the formal lunch which followed the opening ceremony, hosted by the Mayor of Cardiff at City Hall.  Included on the menu was crème portugaise, a soup made with tomato and bacon.  The menu also lists the formal toasts, including a toast to the League of Nations.  The toasts seem so full of hope despite the fact that World War 2 was already looming at the time.

Jumping forward in time, we explored a series of photograph albums featuring the work of Bill (W.R.) Davies, first Director of the WCIA when it was established in 1973.  This includes the Freedom from Hunger Campaign in Wales which was based at the Temple.  Film-maker Tracy Pallant will be interviewing Bill and using these recently-discovered albums in their conversations.

These are just a few highlights from 100 years-worth of historical material which we are in the process of researching and developing, and we look forward to sharing more with you.  

And just so you know, the next time someone pops up to the Temple’s attic and hears any strange noises, they needn’t be scared; it will probably just be me ferreting around in the archive!

The Windrush Generation and Wales

By: Niamh Mannion

The African Community Centre has undertaken an intergenerational project focusing on the experiences of the Windrush Generation in Wales.

The Swansea based charity has centred the project on recording the culture, journey and settlement of people from the West Indies who settled in and around Swansea in the 1950s and 60s.

Intergenerational Effort

The Windrush generation from the Swansea area are now enjoying a well-deserved retirement and have some incredible stories to tell. Young people from the African Community Centre have been trained in interviewing and filming techniques, so they can positively record the Windrush generations extraordinary stories.

Personal Accounts

The African Community Centre’s interviews have shed light on the culture, personal experiences and challenges of the Windrush experiences in Wales. The interviews have also given a chance for younger generations to gain an insight into the hardship experienced by older generations. The second generation Windrush descendants heard about racism and hardship endured by older generations. However, the second generation also became aware of the massive societal change in Wales.

Interviewees talked about their personal experiences of being refused service in shops. Interviewees also shed light on their experiences of suffering racist abuse whilst in the workplace. Interviewees also touched on their unfair treatment at the hands of police officers, including being stopped multiple times by police.

However, interviewees also talked about the changing attitudes of Wales. Interviewees said they now felt part of the community and very much settled in Wales. However, they also spoke of a dual identity between Wales and Jamaica.

Get Involved!

The African Community Centre’s Windrush project is ONGOING!

If you or anyone you know arrived in Swansea, Neath or Port-Talbot in the 1950s, 60s or 70s get in contact with The African Community Centre to participate and have your story heard.

You can contact the African Community Centre: 01792470298 / isioma.ikediashi@africancommunitycentre.org.uk

To find out more about the project visit: https://africancommunitycentre.org.uk/portfolio-item/windrush-intergenerational-project/

Welsh Youth Parliament

By: Niamh Mannion

Young people are often framed as disengaged from the political landscape. Today’s youth are painted as disillusioned from the political debates that will shape their future. However, 2018 looks set to challenge this stereotype with the founding of the Welsh Youth Parliament.

From 1999 to the present day

In 1999, following the establishment of the National Assembly for Wales, dedicated youth engagement services were founded. Since the millennium, youth engagement services have worked with thousands of Welsh children and young people. Youth services engaged young people in a range of topics. These ranged from political debates de-mystifying the inner workings of The Welsh Assembly.

In 2014, the National Assembly for Wales signed a youth engagement charter. The charter ensures that the voices of young people in Wales are listened to and positive change is made to causes they care about. Since the charter was signed, there were increased calls to found a Welsh Youth Parliament. In fact, Wales was the only European Nation without a youth parliament.

In October 2016 Assembly Members agreed to a Welsh Youth Parliament. 5000 young people in Wales were consulted concerning the future aim, membership and overall direction of the parliament.

What happens next?

2018 marks the start of The Welsh Youth Parliament. It’s a super exciting time to be a young person in Wales!

60 young people (aged 11-18) from all over Wales will be elected to sit in the youth parliament. Members of The Welsh Youth Parliament will identify, debate and bring awareness to issues that impact young people. And you could be one of them! You can apply to stand for the Welsh Youth Parliament from the 3rd September 2018 until the 30th September 2018. Find information on how to stand in youth parliament here: https://www.youthparliament.wales/stand/

You can also make your voice heard by voting! If your aged 11 to 18 and live or are educated in Wales, you can vote to elect members of your youth parliament. Voter registration is open from 28th May 2018 until 16th November 2018.  Find more information on registering to vote here: https://www.mi-nomination.com/wypregister/form/landingpageenglish

Elections for the Welsh Youth Parliament will be held from the 5th November 2018 until the 25th November 2018. The exciting election results will be announced at some point over December 2018!

Empowering Young People

The founding of The Welsh Youth Parliament is a fantastic moment for young people in Wales. Not only will Welsh Youth Parliament empower the voices of young people, it will empower democracy as a whole in Wales.

Welsh Youth Parliament will ensure that the voices of young people from around Wales and from a multitude of backgrounds will be heard. This new chapter also gives Wales an incredible opportunity to listen to the young people of today, who will shape the future of Wales.

The new youth parliament will be symbolic of improving the lives of young people, in turn improving their collective futures and Wales as a whole. Here at WCIA we applaud all future participants of The Welsh Youth Parliament and the positive change it will bring to the lives of young people in Wales.