The Inspire Wales Awards are an initiative of the Institute of Welsh Affairs in association with the Western Mail.
To celebrate the achievements of the men and women throughout Wales who make a significant contribution to society, the Institute of Welsh Affairs has teamed up with the Western Mail for the Inspire Wales Awards. The awards reward those in the fields of business, education, science, arts and media, the environment and sport, as well as seeking champions in citizenship and young achievers. Entries are encouraged from the public, private and voluntary sectors. In this profile, we reveal the finalists in the Welsh at Work category.
North Wales Police
North Wales Police have been steadily working towards Welsh language provision in their service and enhance the bilingual capacity of the force. It first appointed a Welsh Language advisor in 2000, introducing officer and employee badges stating whether they are learning or fluent in Welsh. Since 2004 police officer recruits have received mandatory Welsh language lessons as part of their two-year probationary training, and this now applies to all other employees. The aim of making the force bilingual – as of 2005 all employees have to have Welsh language courtesy skills before appointment – is to establish a strong relationship with the Welsh speaking public. And awards, which are handed out bi-annually at the Eisteddfodau, have been offered as an incentive to employees to become competent in Welsh. To help achieve this the force has worked closely with the Welsh Language Board and Llysfasi College, which have tailor-made courses for the authority.
Big Lottery Fund
The Big Lottery Fund receives 14p out of every pound spent on a lottery ticket and a portion of this money is put towards making every publication and web page they produce in Wales bilingual. The organisation has also established several projects such as ‘promoting bilingual workplaces’ to drive the internal use of Welsh within the public sector and the ‘Welsh language protocol’ which gives companies which want to reach into Welsh communities advice on how to approach a bilingual business model. Yet perhaps the most significant move by the organisation to become fully bilingual has been its commitment to install the Welsh version of Microsoft Office on all Welsh speakers’ computers so that they can trial programmes in Welsh. This has allowed for Welsh publications to be smoothly integrated into the public domain. Since the Big Lottery Fund began, it has invested £2m in media projects that actively promote the use of the Welsh Language in communities across Wales such as the Urdd, Merched y Wawr and various Mentrau Iaith.
Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service
The Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service has attempted to promote the use of the Welsh language within the service while continuing to supply equal opportunities for all employees. It provides training to Welsh speakers in their native language in line with the Welsh Assembly Government’s guidelines. And it has also worked towards providing all of its services internally and externally in Welsh, even offering an NVQ IT qualification in Welsh through the CAD centre. The service now provides an internal newsletter in Welsh and has a bilingual website while it also identifies any job vacancies where Welsh-speaking is essential. While as a public service it is extremely active in a number of community safety projects, such as school liaison and community groups, and it claims the use of bilingualism has enabled it to engage more effectively with the local communities.
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