What is a Citizens’ Assembly?
A citizens’ assembly is an event which brings together people from all walks of life to discuss an issue. At the event, participants learn about the issue, discuss it with one another and then make recommendations about what should happen and how things should change.
This citizens’ assembly has been initiated by the National Assembly Commission, a cross-party group of five Assembly Members responsible for ensuring the provision of property, staff and services to support all Assembly Members.
Citizens’ assemblies have been used all around the world to help shape the work of governments and parliaments. The recommendations of this citizens’ assembly will be used by the National Assembly Commission to inform its work.
What will taking part involve?
Participants will have the opportunity to meet with individuals from all walks of life from across Wales, participate in discussions and hear from engaging, expert speakers. The focus of this citizens’ assembly is how can people in Wales shape their future? What role should citizens play in the democratic process?
We want to bring together people from across Wales, representative of the wider population, to discuss this important question in depth. There is no requirement for you to have any prior knowledge of the topic. All the information you need to take part will be provided.
During the assembly you will be asked to consider everything you have heard and work with the other participants to come up with recommendations. They will form the basis of a report that will be delivered to the National Assembly Commission who will respond to the report at a public meeting in September.
Why hold this event?
Public engagement is at the heart of the National Assembly’s ways of working. We aim to include the public in everything we do. We provide opportunities for the public to contribute to committee consultations, submit public petitions and attend workshops and events. We’ve also recently established the new Welsh Youth Parliament.
This citizens’ assembly is another way in which we can engage with 60 people representative of the people of Wales and consider how best to respond to the issues that are important to them.
When and where will the event be held?
The event will be held at Gregynog Hall, Tregynon, Newtown, SY16 3PL from the evening of Friday 19 July, until early afternoon on Sunday 21 July. It will be a residential event and you must be able to attend the entire time.
How will you ensure that the event is accessible?
If you are selected to take part, all transport, meals and accommodation costs will be paid by us. You will also receive £200 to thank you for your time. This will be transferred to you in the week after the event. The venue and accommodation are fully accessible.
If you require BSL interpretation or any form of additional support, then every attempt will be made to provide this. We will also cover reasonable child care or respite care costs, where you need these covered in order to be able to attend. Please just let us know your requirements.
How do I get to the event?
You will need to make your own travel arrangements to get to the event. All reasonable travel expenses will be refunded. That means standard class rail and air fares. We will also cover car mileage at 25p per mile and parking costs. The venue has its own car park. If you need a lift / taxi from a nearby train station please let us know in advance.
We cannot pay everyone’s travel expenses upfront or make everyone’s travel arrangements for them. However, if you need help with this in order to be able to attend, we will be able to assist you in making the necessary arrangements.
Who can apply?
Anyone over 16 years of age, permanently resident in Wales living in a household that has received an invitation can apply, with a few exceptions set out below. Note, however, that a maximum of one adult from any single household will be selected to participate.
The following people cannot apply: employees of the National Assembly for Wales and National Assembly Commission, Members of the National Assembly for Wales, Members of the UK Parliament, Local Authority Councillors, Members of the European Parliament and paid employees of any political party.
How was I selected to receive this invitation?
An invitation was sent to 10,000 addresses randomly selected, from across all of Wales, from Royal Mail’s address database.
After I apply, what happens next?
Once registration has closed, we will select 60 people at random, from those who registered their interest, to take part in the event. This random selection will be weighted to make sure that there is a good mix of people from all across Wales.
If you are selected, we will contact you by phone, email and letter on or around Tuesday June 18 to let you know. We will then be back in touch to explain transport and accommodation arrangements, and discuss any dietary or accessibility requirements you may have.
What will happen after the event?
As part of the event, we will record your ideas and recommendations. We will do this anonymously so that our records do not show who said what. We will then use this anonymous information to produce a report, which will be shared with the National Assembly Commission who will respond to the report at a public meeting in September.
Who is running the event?
The event has been initiated by the National Assembly Commission which has commissioned two organisations to help it deliver the work:
The Sortition Foundation promotes the use of stratified, random selection in decision-making. It is responsible for recruiting people to take part in the assembly; its aim is to ensure the assembly is broadly representative of Welsh society.
The Involve Foundation (‘Involve’) is a UK-wide public participation charity. It is responsible for delivering and writing up the event itself.
Who is funding the event?
The National Assembly Commission is funding the event.
Timings and venue
Where is the event being held?
The venue is Gregynog Hall, Tregynon, Newtown, SY16 3PL. Your accommodation and meals will be provided at the Hall. This is also where the event itself will take place. Please see the section on travel and expenses below for how to get to the Hall.
At exactly what time will the event start and finish?
We are still working this out. It is likely to be from around 6.45pm on Friday 19 July to around 2.30pm on Sunday 21 July. We will update the information on this page once the times have been finalised. We will also write to all confirmed participants with the finalised times. It will be a residential event and you must be able to attend the entire time.
If you will struggle to get to the hotel by 6.45pm on the Friday do let us know and we can have a chat about when you might be able to get there and if you will still be able to attend. If you wish to arrive early on the Friday please see below for details about when you can check-in to your room.
When can I check-in to the Hall on the Friday and when do I need to check out?
You will be able to check-in to your room at Gregynog Hall from 1.30pm on Friday 19 July. If you wish to arrive earlier, the Hall can store your luggage for you until your room is available. The Courtyard Café will be open 10am – 5pm for those who arrive early and wish to buy lunch.
You will need to check out of your room before 9.30am on Sunday 21 July. The Hall will store your luggage for you until the event is over or until later in the afternoon if you wish to spend some time in the Hall’s grounds after the event.
What will my room be like and what facilities does the Hall have?
Your room will be equipped with a washbasin (except 1 bedroom), tea & coffee facilities, towels & soap, dressing gown & slippers. There is free wifi available in all rooms and most communal areas.
Gregnog Hall is set in 750 acres of grounds. Its formal gardens are Grade 1 listed and the whole of the grounds were recently awarded the status of a National Nature Reserve. There are many walks of varying lengths and difficulty available. You can read more about the Hall and see photos of the house and gardens on its website: www.gregynog.org
Due to the historic nature of the building, the majority of rooms share bathroom facilities; only sixteen are ensuite. The facilities are however of the highest standard. If you have particular concerns around sharing a bathroom then please let us know.
Will I need to share a room?
No, not if you don’t want to. So that all participants can stay at the Hall, we will ask for four volunteers to share a room with a fellow participant of the same sex. We will do this in advance of the weekend. If no one wishes to share a room, we will provide two participants with alternative accommodation at the nearby Elephant and Castle Hotel where the staff team are staying, meaning no one has to share.
Food and drink
What food and drink do you provide? Can you cater for dietary and religious requirements?
We’ll provide dinner on the Friday, all meals on the Saturday and breakfast and lunch on the Sunday. We’ll also provide snacks between meals. Yes we can cater for different dietary requirements as long as we know in advance. If you are a confirmed participant and have not yet told us about a dietary requirement, please let us know as soon as possible so we can tell the hotel.
Is there any food and drink you don’t cover?
We do not provide alcoholic drinks with dinner. However the Hall’s bar will be open from half an hour before dinner starts, if you wish to buy your own drinks.
We will not cover any drinks or other items that you order from the Hall’s bar or any items charged to room service.
Travel and expenses
Do I need to book my own travel? What travel expenses do you cover?
Yes, you will need to make you own travel arrangements to get to the Hall.* All reasonable travel expenses will be refunded. That means standard class rail and air fares. We will also cover car mileage at 25p per mile (see below for car park information). If you need a lift / taxi from a nearby train station please let us know in advance as we may be able to arrange this for you. There is information about how to drive to the hotel here: http://www.gregynog.org/contact/
*Whilst we can’t make everyone’s travel arrangements for them, if you need help booking your travel then please let us know.
Does the venue have a car park? Will I have to pay for parking?
The Hall has a free car park that you can use. As the car park is used by some people not staying at the Hall, you will notice signs saying you have to pay for parking. These do not apply to you. If you go to reception and say that you’re staying at the Hall, they will give you a free parking permit to display in your car window.
When and how will travel expenses be paid?
We will pay your expenses in the few days following the event. If you need help with covering your expenses faster than that then let us know. We can’t pay everyone’s travel expenses upfront but can provide some help where it is needed.
Your expenses will be paid into your preferred bank account. You will need to fill in a simple expenses form and give us copies of any travel receipts (you don’t need receipts for petrol costs). We will be in touch will all confirmed participants with details of how to do this.
Do you cover any expenses other than travel?
Yes, we cover your accommodation, food and drink. Some participants may need to bring a carer or dependent with them, or need help with respite- or child- care, to be able to attend. If you tell us about this in advance, we will do our best to help.
“Thank you” gift
What is the “thank you” gift? How much is it? How/when do I receive it?
All participants will receive a gift of £200 as a thank you for giving up their time. This is in addition to your food, drink, accommodation and travel expenses. We will transfer the gift into your preferred bank account a few days after the event. The £200 is dependent on your attendance for the full weekend. We will transfer the gift into the same bank account we use for your travel expenses unless you tell us not to.
I’m on benefits. Will this mean that I can’t attend?
If you are on benefits, it is your decision about whether or not to accept the thank you gift as it may affect your benefits. We are happy to explore options with you, such as providing the gift as vouchers – for example for your preferred supermarket. But even in this case your benefits may still be affected. You are welcome to attend the event without accepting the gift if you wish to do so. We can cover your food, drink, accommodation and travel expenses without it affecting your benefits.
How accessible is the venue?
The parts of Gregynog Hall that we will be using (the event room and dining room) are step free and wheelchair accessible. Fully accessible rooms (including fully accessible bathrooms) are also available. Please let us know if you need one of these.
The event room has a hearing loop.
Will materials be available in Braille/large print/a different language (e.g. Welsh)? Will it be a problem that I’m deaf/dyslexic etc?
The event will fully cater for participants to be able to take part in English or in Welsh according to their preference.
We will do our best to meet whatever access needs you have and will confirm as soon as possible whether we are able to meet them. If you are a confirmed participant and have not yet told us about any access requirements you have, please let us know as soon as possible so we can discuss what you will need.
Is there somewhere I can pray?
Yes, we should have broken for lunch and dinner during midday and evening prayers. But even if that’s not the case you can leave the event for a short time. You will be able to use the privacy of your room for prayers.
Can I change my mind about agreeing to take part?
By agreeing to participate in the event you are making an important commitment to attend the whole of the weekend. We'd ask that you don't cancel lightly because it's actually quite hard for us to find a replacement for you because of the need for participants to reflect Wales’ population. That said, life events can happen that mean you have to cancel and we understand that. If you do have to cancel then please tell us as soon as possible.
Bringing people with you and going home in the evening
Can I go home in the evening if I live locally?
Yes, if you live locally then you can go home in the evenings if you want to. Please bear in mind that you will need to attend dinner on Friday as we will start the event’s activities over dinner. Dinner will last from approximately 6.45pm to 9pm. It is possible for you to miss dinner on Saturday.
If you wish to miss dinner on Saturday and/or not stay at the hotel, please tell us in advance so that we do not pay for unnecessary food/accommodation.
Can I bring my partner / family member(s) / friend with me and can he/she/they eat with me?
The event will require your full attention whilst it is running. Any guests you bring with you will not be able to join in or observe the event itself and the evening meals are for participants only.
However your partner or other friend/family member can stay in your hotel room and join you for breakfast and lunch for the following additional costs:
Adding a person to your room including breakfast: £20 per person;
Lunch: £8.50 per person;
Cot hire: £20 per cot.
If the person coming with you wishes to eat dinner at the hotel, we will need to arrange that separately for you. Please let us know as soon as possible if this is the case.
If someone is coming with you because you would otherwise be unable to attend (for example, if you have a carer), we will cover these costs for you. If not, please bear in mind that you will need to pay these additional costs yourself.
You will need to let us know in advance if there will be anyone accompanying you so we can let the hotel know and make sure you are in a suitable room.
Do you have a crèche or somewhere my children can play whilst I'm participating? Could they eat with me?
There is no crèche on site. If you wish to bring children with you, you will need to arrange for somebody to look after them whilst the event is running.
If you have a very young baby who needs breast- or bottle-feeding, you will be able to do this in the event room. Cots can be arranged for guest bedrooms at a charge of £20 per cot.
Please do let us know the number of people accompanying you. It is important that we know this in advance so that we can tell the hotel.