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Following the launch of the Mindful Nation UK report in the UK Parliament in October, Vishvapani organised an event at the Welsh Assembly/Senedd in Cardiff, capital of Wales. He reports.
“The Mindful Nation UK report makes recommendations about the role mindfulness can play in several areas of government policy. However, in the UK powers for the key areas of Health and Education are devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, so if these recommendations are to have any effect in Wales, where I live, it’s down to the Welsh government. With that in mind, I organised an event at the Welsh Assembly on November 17, 2015.
The Welsh government prizes its autonomy, so it couldn’t be simply a launch of the Mindful Nation UK report. I brought together a group to produce a Briefing Paper covering Health, Education and the Workplace, which adapted the report’s findings and recommendations to a Welsh context. Key recommendations include making Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy more widely available on the NHS, and including mindfulness training in all initial teacher training.
Around 50 people attended, including six Ministers and other Assembly Members, some of whom were graduates of recent mindfulness course for Members of the Welsh Assembly (AMs). Others attending included the Chief Medical Officer for Wales and the incoming Director of Schools. It was a fruitful opportunity for networking and discussion.
Darren Millar AM hosted the event and I chaired it. We had presentations on all the key areas, including one from mitra Rebecca Remigio on the ‘South Wales Mindfulness in Probation’ project. Vaughan Gething (Deputy Minister for Health), and Ken Skates (Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport) both spoke warmly about mindfulness, as did Darren Millar (Shadow Minister for Health).
The mindfulness world is well-established in Wales, largely through the influence of Bangor University’s mindfulness department. In the coming months we will continue to speak to Welsh politicians with the aim of influencing party manifestos for the Assembly elections in May 2016.
I continue to be amazed at the level of interest in mindfulness among policy-makers. I think we have an opportunity to make a lasting difference and bring mindfulness and meditation practice to millions of people.