Establishing rights for people to use Welsh has ‘transformed’ the experiences of Welsh speakers, according to the Welsh Language Commissioner, and he welcomes the political commitment to expand these rights. There is a commitment in Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru’s Co-operation Agreement to extend Welsh language standards to further sectors, including public transport, water companies, and housing associations.
Aled Roberts said: 'Since the introduction of standards, I have seen a transformation in the rights of Welsh speakers and learners. The Welsh language is now part of the way organisations plan their services, and increasingly people have confidence that a quality service is available to them through the medium of Welsh. The standards have also led to establishing rights for employees to use Welsh at work, significantly increasing the opportunities to use the language on a daily basis.
‘I welcome the political commitment to extend the standards to further organisations; and look forward to working with the Government to deliver this policy without delay.'
The Welsh Language Rights Day is an opportunity to celebrate and promote the rights, and hear how being able to access services through the medium of Welsh has enriched people’s lives. The Commissioner's research shows that some organisations need to improve how they treat the Welsh language, and the campaign is a way of showing those organisations what can be achieved and why it is important. The Commissioner will publish a series of videos on his website and social media where staff from organisations and the public talk about their experiences of using the Welsh language. Dozens of public organisations across Wales will also join in the celebrations by promoting their Welsh language services on the day.
Shumita Palit, is a nurse in the stroke unit at Ysbyty Bronglais, Aberystwyth, and has learnt Welsh. Shumita said : 'I use the language every day at work in the hospital. It is important to speak Welsh with the patients, especially if they have had a stroke. They may have lost the ability to speak English, or feel vulnerable in hospital. Using Welsh is important to ensure accurate assessments of the patient's condition, and to make them feel comfortable.'
Lois Russell-Fone is a Registrar with Wrexham Council. She was appointed to the role to offer a Welsh language service in the county. Lois said: 'I register births, marriages and deaths in the Wrexham area. People really value the opportunity to be able to register these important events in Welsh, and I am glad that I can support them in the language of their choice.'
To raise awareness of language rights among new Welsh speakers, Aled Roberts will take part in a special question and answer session at 7pm on Welsh Language Rights Day (7 December), which is organised in partnership with the National Centre for Learning Welsh. A Welsh lesson has also been prepared by the Centre for Learning Welsh and is available on their website here.
You can support the campaign on social media by following #MaeGenIHawl.