Young women’s voices can be heard says new Gwynedd cabinet decision maker
Dale Spridgeon, local democracy reporter
Young women’s voices can be heard in local government, a mother of two has said after she went from being a front-line council worker to becoming an important part of the council’s top decision-making process.
Menna Jones from Caeathro is the Councillor for Bontnewydd who was recently elected onto the Gwynedd Council cabinet.
The 32-year-old gave up her paid job as an employability mentor for Communities for Work Plus, a Gwaith Gwynedd project, to be the Cabinet Member for Corporate Support.
Menna hopes her new role will help shape the future policies of her community, whilst helping her to be a role model to other women and young mums.
The Plaid Cymru councillor wants to encourage them to get into local politics, an area where they have been traditionally under-represented.
Menna’s former job saw her tailoring support for people who were out of work or at risk of poverty.
She specifically helped people overcome barriers to employment and training, to help them find work and futures.
Menna’s interest in politics sparked during her time at Aberystywyth University where she studied a history degree.
She went on to work with the former MP and barrister Elfyn Llwyd and the current Dwyfor and Meirionnydd MP Liz Saville Roberts, in the MPs’ surgeries and on case work.
She got involved in Gwynedd community politics after moving to the area from Llandysul in the south of Ceredigion ten years ago.
A Welsh speaker, the busy mum, soon to be married, has two children Elliw, one-and-a-half, and Osian, four.
Menna said: “I was involved with local community politics around Caethro and Waunfawr for about five years, but I wanted to do more.
“Previously, being a councillor was only possible for the retired, those who had the spare time or could afford not to work due to commitment.
“Women’s voices, particularly young mums had less chance to be heard or have influence.
“Nowadays, there’s a huge amount of support for women, and others, getting into politics, with childcare cost help, and the council can be very flexible.
“I thought long and hard before I gave up my job, but when I realised what support there was out there and I have the support of my partner Tudur, it was all feasible.”
Menna hopes her experiences will inform her new role:
“As a front-line council worker, I know the challenges our communities face, I also have insight from the other side, I know what it is to be a council member of staff.
“As mum, I also just wanted to work for the community I love. It is a great area to raise a family.
“I want my children to continue enjoying living here when they grow up and to help shape decisions important for their futures, and I want to encourage other women and mums, to get involved in their local politics.”
Menna is also keen to promote apprenticeship schemes which can lead to work within the council.
“It’s a great way for people to move into jobs and get the experience they need whilst getting paid. ” She said.
“The schemes can lead to jobs in the council, I’d urge anyone interested to watch the Gwynedd Council website, we have openings coming soon.”
She also wished to thank the former local councillor for Bontnewydd Peter Garlick.
“I have got some big shoes to fill,” she added.
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