Welsh Language Commissioner Efa Gruffudd Jones recently visited the Office for National Statistics in Newport to discuss their work and see how the Welsh language is incorporated into its day to day activities. Here Ruth Studley, Welsh Language Champion at the Office for National Statistics talks more about the importance of the Welsh language to the organisation.
The Office for National Statistics is the UK’s largest independent producer of official statistics and its recognised national statistical institute. We are responsible for collecting and publishing statistics related to the economy, population and society at national, regional and local levels.
I am the Director of Population and Migration Statistics Change at the ONS, and our current Welsh Language Champion. We’ve taken great pride in our commitment to the Welsh language, having a dedicated Welsh Language Champion for several years. My role as the Welsh Language Champion includes being an advocate at a senior level for the internal use of the Welsh language and nurturing a culture of bilingualism, as well as embedding bilingual provision into practices across the business to deliver excellent services for the people of Wales. I’m quite new to being the ONS Welsh Language Champion, but I am very passionate about the Welsh language, and have previously worked in a bilingual team in Welsh Government. My priority is to ensure that the presence and use of Welsh is normalised across the ONS to reflect the bilingual society in which we live and work in Wales.
In October 2023, we officially launched our new and updated Welsh language scheme, which is more ambitious, progressive and proactive in the services that we offer in Welsh. To implement the scheme, the Welsh Language Team designed a comprehensive implementation and communications plan, to raise awareness of the requirements of the scheme to all staff, whilst also developing that internal culture of bilingualism.
The team has worked closely with business areas who have regular contact with the public and stakeholders in Wales to ensure that all of our colleagues understand the scheme and how best to provide proactive bilingual services. This work has included bespoke workshops, developing digital resources, FAQs and flowcharts to really embed the practices of the scheme into work processes across the business.
We have also developed a four-year action plan to help the ONS reach the goals set out in the scheme. This plan sets a clear roadmap to increasing our bilingual capabilities and improving our services for members of the public and key stakeholders in Wales. The plan allows us to keep a close eye on how we comply with the scheme and allows for efficient monitoring and identifying of any potential risks to be addressed before they develop.
I’d say the biggest challenge has so far been the scale of the work – the ONS is a very large organisation with a large workforce, so getting the message and information out to everyone can be challenging. We have addressed this by prioritising communications focused on the areas of the business that have the most contact with the public, and maintaining regular contact with our key stakeholders.
We are only four months into our new scheme, but I’m very pleased with the progress we’re making. We’re really seeing a tangible change across the business where proactive bilingual provision is getting embedded within processes and plans. Our next steps are to continue with the progress that we are making against the action plan, and to work across the Civil Service with our partners and stakeholders in sharing best practice, ultimately improving our services for Welsh-speaking users.
Director of Population and Migration Statistics Change Welsh Language Champion
Office for National Statistics
In the above photo:
Cerys Evans – Welsh Language Policy Adviser
Sir Ian Diamond – The Statistician of State
Efa Gruffudd Jones – Welsh Language Commissioner
Lewis Owen – Welsh Language Policy Senior Adviser
Michael Willmott – Head of Policy and Coordination GSS