Covid might be one reason for fall in Welsh speakers on Anglesey says ‘disappointed’ council
Covid might be one possible reason behind the fall in the number of Welsh speakers on Anglesey, the council has said.
The 2021 Census results showed that 55.8% of the island’s population reported that they speak Welsh, compared to 57.2% in 2011.
However, there was a rise in people between the ages of 16 and 64 saying they could speak Welsh, with the fall coming in the younger demographic.
Councillor Ieuan Williams, Education and Welsh language portfolio holder, suggested that the Covid pandemic’s impact on schools may be behind the fall.
The census was held right in the middle of the pandemic at a time when children had faced long periods of disrupted education.
It is particularly troubling that the data shows that fewer children speak Welsh compared to a decade ago,” he said.
“Some have suggested that the COVID-19 pandemic may be a factor and that the figures reflect parents’ interpretation of their children’s skills and not their true Welsh language ability.
“Thankfully the decline on Anglesey has not been as steep as in other parts of Wales but it is crucial that we understand what is the reason behind this.”
Communities in the north-east of the island saw the sharpest fall in the number of Welsh speakers. However, there is some cause for optimism as numbers have increased in areas where, historically, use of the language has been lower.
Areas of Newborough, Beaumaris and Holyhead have all seen an increase. The county has also retained communities where over 70% of the population speaks Welsh; a crucial tipping point in terms of language sustainability.
Isle of Anglesey County Council Chief Executive, Dylan J Williams, added, “As a local authority, we have a key role to play in protecting and promoting the Welsh language.”
“We are working hard to strengthen the local economy, attract investment and create jobs and opportunities that will keep young people in their communities; we are busy building new Council homes that will offer affordable housing to local residents and ensuring that our schools are prominent in promoting the use of Welsh amongst our children and young people.”
“Despite the disappointing Census results, the County Council will continue to promote the language and will ensure that the Welsh Language is a prominent part of its priorities, decisions and work.”
Ffreuer Owen, Policy and Welsh Language Manager said, “Some of Wales’ ‘Welshest’ communities in terms of language use are here on Anglesey. We have a responsibility to sustain them, as well as build upon the encouraging signs of growth in other parts of the county.
“Continued collaboration with our schools, town and community councils, and all of our partner organisations who make up Fforwm Iaith Ynys Môn (Anglesey Welsh Language Forum) is key.”
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