Better things are coming: 2022 will bring a new and exciting chapter for Wales
Adam Price, the leader of Plaid Cymru
What a year 2021 has been.
If 2020 was a year like no other, then certainly 2021 was the sequel no-one asked for.
Another year of loss, longing, and loneliness. Where we once again realised what was truly important to us: Friends and family, key workers and our communities.
And yet in forcing us apart, the pandemic has brought us closer together in so many ways. We’ve once again shopped local, supported our homegrown businesses, and cherished those moments we have together in ways we may have previously taken for granted.
Many of us would have had high hopes for 2021, riding high on the vaccination programme being rolled out across the UK. Then, at the end of 2021 we were told we’d face a ‘tidal wave’ of cases from a new variant – Omicron – and it was all too easy to feel overwhelmed all over again.
But it’s important to remember how many were saved during the first two waves – many thousands simply from having the vaccine. We must once again place our trust in our wonderful NHS who tell us that the key to keeping us safe is by getting our booster jab.
I’m thankful for all our health and care staff, our key workers and volunteers the length and breadth of Wales for their tireless work in keeping us all safe.
If 2021 was marked by loss, longing, and loneliness for too many of us, then it’s important we talk about the reasons to be hopeful for 2022.
As a country, Wales begins the new year with many challenges ahead: If not the pandemic, then the climate emergency, and the challenges that come from a hostile Westminster government.
But in our Senedd, a new, nation-building Programme for Government was agreed which will bring real and tangible benefits for the people of Wales.
It’s going to give our children a better start in life. While our children already benefit from free primary and secondary education, child hunger means that not all children enter school equal. A hungry child cannot learn. A hungry child is far more likely to suffer from anxiety and severe stress. A hungry child is on the back foot on their educational journey from the moment they set foot in a school.
Through Plaid Cymru’s negotiation with the Welsh Government, the existing free school meal programme will be expanded to all primary school pupils. No longer will our children be separated at lunch time between those that have and those that have not. No longer will the quality of food be a factor in our childrens’ ability to learn.
The Co-operation Agreement between Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Government will also benefit families, through the radical action to be taken on second homes and unaffordable housing. It will benefit the Welsh family farm through stability payments. And it will benefit our NHS through a national care service, free at the point of need, which will do so much to support it.
After such a difficult and dark time for everyone – a time of isolation, fear and grief – better things are coming: a new exciting chapter for Wales.
In the meantime, let us do our bit to keep each other safe and to protect our NHS. This means getting vaccinated and boosted, taking frequent Lateral Flow Tests, wearing a mask, and maintaining social distancing in indoor public settings.
If coronavirus is to be marked in years, then let’s hope 2022 is the final part – the trilogy, if you will – which marks the end to this period in our lives.
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