Posted: Thu 29th Jun 2023

Wrexham Council still searching for Welsh language swimming instructor

news.wales / newyddion.cymru
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Jun 29th, 2023

Wrexham Council is still searching for a Welsh speaker to fill a swimming instructor vacancy which has been advertised for a year. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Senior councillors made the admission at a press briefing ahead of an executive board meeting next week where the authority’s Welsh Language Strategy running up to 2027 is expected to be approved. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Rossett Cllr Hugh Jones (Con), the council’s Welsh Language champion shared frustration about the struggle to recruit to the role, while leader of the council Esclusham Cllr Mark Pritchard (Ind) spoke of wider difficulties in recruiting Welsh speaking staff to the authority. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The Welsh Government has a target to reach one million Welsh speakers in Wales by 2050, but Cllr Pritchard says this needs to be tempered with realism for an area like Wrexham which is close to the border with England. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

He said: “That’s very ambitious and I really hope they (Welsh Government) achieve that. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“It’s a difficult area for us, and this is just my personal opinion, because of where we are in regards to location. That is a factor. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“We do struggle. We work tirelessly to recruit staff that are Welsh speakers but it’s not easy for us and we can’t hide away from that either. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“We’ve had adverts out for Welsh speakers and we haven’t been able to recruit. We mustn’t just try and promote it without telling the general public what our difficulties are.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Cllr Jones said the council had offered “every carrot” to try and fill the vacancy for a Welsh language swimming instructor. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“One of our requirements is to provide swimming lessons through the medium of Welsh”, he said. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“We have advertised for a period of 12 months, we’ve actively promoted it, we’ve gone out to schools, sports clubs. We have advertised across the border into Flintshire. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“We’ve done everything we possibly can to try and recruit swimming instructors who can teach through the medium of Welsh. We offered to provide Welsh language lessons. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“Obviously when you’re dealing with something like swimming lessons, safety and everything else, there has to be a certain level of competence about the ability to communicate in Welsh.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

He added: “We have tried every means possible. We’ve asked people from Welsh language societies whether they can help us recruit and to date we have not been successful in recruiting. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“We can’t go out on the street, pressgang somebody and say ‘you’re going to be a Welsh language swimming instructor’.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Cllr Pritchard said: “The other 21 authorities will be doing the same thing. The other authorities across Wales are having problems recruiting, they really are. It’s a difficult area and we’re not alone here. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“I think the Welsh Government will have some sympathy with the local authorities who are working tirelessly to recruit and can’t recruit because the numbers are just not out there. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“We have to have a lot of common sense in this conversation as well because we all embrace it (the language), we all support it but we’ve got to be honest with ourselves what we can and can’t achieve because of recruitment.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The council’s Welsh Language Strategy will ensure it meets standards and statutory obligations, with more than £1.3m earmarked to try and increase the number of Welsh speakers in Wrexham. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Cllr Jones said demographic changes in the last 20 to 25 years, losing traditional Welsh speakers in areas such as Rhos and Johnstown, has not helped the cause. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

He said: “As a border county a significant percentage of our population works and has a lot of their activities across the border so trying to make a comparison between Wrexham and other local authorities not in the same situation is somewhat difficult.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

But the council does encourage staff and councillors to learn the language. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“It’s important that we as a council, when we’re asking the community to embrace the Welsh language, set an example for ourselves”, Cllr Jones said. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“You have to be realistic. If you look at the lack of growth in Welsh speakers across Wales we’re not alone in what we’re trying to achieve here.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Wrexham Council’s executive board meets on Tuesday (May 9). ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

By BBC LDRS ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​



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