Father says he was left waiting over three years for swimming lessons in Welsh for children
A Welsh language campaign group has slammed a Welsh council after a father says he was left waiting three years for swimming lessons in Welsh for his children.
Cymdeithas yr Iaith member Aled Powell said he has been asking Wrexham Council for swimming lessons in Welsh for his children since 2019, and he is still waiting without any clarity on when swimming lessons will be available for children in the area.
Cymdeithas yr Iaith said there have been several investigations into the matter by the Welsh Language Commissioner.
Aled Powell, a member of Cymdeithas yr Iaith’s language rights group, said: “I’ve been discussing with Wrexham Council for over three years, I’ve made complaints to the council and the Welsh Language Commissioner, and nothing fundamental has changed.
“What am I supposed to do? The council has a duty to give provision in Welsh, but they clearly don’t care about their Welsh speakers. The choice I’ve been given, basically, is swimming lessons in English or no swimming lessons at all.”
While he is fighting to get swimming lessons in Welsh for his children, Aled said he is aware that they are missing out.
“The Welsh Language Commissioner is currently on their third investigation into the matter, but in the meantime my children are growing up. I don’t want lessons for my children years from now when they’re in secondary school.
“Awen was four when I started requesting lessons and she’s now seven. She and her little sister are asking every week when they can learn to swim.”
Nia Marshall Lloyd, on behalf of the Wrexham branch of Cymdeithas yr Iaith, said: “It’s incredible that a local authority is behaving in such an indifferent way when the area’s parents are asking for something as basic as swimming lessons in Welsh for their children.
“This should be a straightforward matter – clearly the main obstacle is Wrexham Council’s attitude towards the Welsh language.
“We are calling on council leader Mark Pritchard to accept responsibility for this and intervene at once to ensure that swimming lessons in Welsh are available to children in Wrexham in the new year.”
A Wrexham County Council spokesperson said: “We are aware of the issue and are working with the Welsh Language Commissioner and Freedom Leisure to resolve it.
“A breakdown of some of the recruitment work that colleagues at Freedom Leisure and ourselves have been doing to fill the post can be seen below:
“Freedom Leisure activity in promoting the job post:
- Job has been advertised continuously online (no expiry date) but had a small update on 11 January of this year.
- Since May 2022 the job has been advertised on boards across all main Freedom Leisure sites (not school dual use), Waterworld, Gwyn Evans, Queensway and Chirk. All vacancies have a Welsh and English version including the benefits to working at Freedom Leisure.
- Coleg Cambria 12.1.22 (Refreshers Fair) Spoke to students (Further Education) about vacancies. Contacts made with the Jobs Team; job adverts shared with them to go on their jobs page.
- Rhosnesni High School 29.6.22 Welsh in the Workplace: Three colleagues met with students at a local High School to talk about how we all use Welsh every day in the workplace and the importance of this. Also talked about specific vacancies and careers such as swimming teachers. Students had to use their Cymraeg to fact find.
- Tŷ Pawb Jobs Fair 22.9.22: Organised by the DWP in Wrexham. Made some good local contacts for job advertising and recruitment in the future and spoke with approximately 50 job seekers, 16 of which left their details and will be sent suitable job vacancies in the future. Welsh speaking Swimming Teacher Vacancies were printed, on full show and discussed with job applicants.
- Social Media and Web: In February 2022 Wrexham County Borough Council produced a blog article which was widely shared on social media by all our centres at Freedom Leisure.
- Menter Iaith Flintshire and Wrecsam: Contact made in January 2022 and Job Vacancy information shared with them to distribute to contacts.
- Applicants: On 2 March 2022 an applicant came forward for the vacancy, but due to a change in circumstances the applicant withdrew their application.”
The council says the job was shared across social media on eight occasions in the last two years.
“These posts link to an article on WCBC Newsblog and includes a direct link to apply for the job on the Freedom Leisure website.
“Each time it is posted WCBC tag in local and national Welsh language organisations and partners to share the vacancy as widely as possible.”
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