I’m Jenny Rathbone, the Assembly Member for Cardiff Central. You first elected me in May 2011 and I am a proud that you then re-elected me in 2016, increasing my slim majority by 2000%. Living and working in such a diverse constituency as Cardiff Central is such a fantastic experience as there is so much going on in all our different communities.
As well as being an Assembly Member I am also a school governor, currently at St Teilo’s High School in Llanedeyrn. I want to ensure that schools and colleges are serving all our young people so that every pupil is achieving to the best of their ability, and enjoy the opportunity to help support children outside of the Senedd chamber.
Alongside this role, I support a number of charities. I am a proud patron of Hayaat Women’s Trust; a Director of the Living Room which supports people combatting addictions; and a trustee of Hybu, a local children’s charity committed to making sure children have the opportunities to become the best they can be.
I am a firm supporter of trade unions and currently a member of Unite. As a previous shop steward I know how important trades unions are in defending the rights of the workforce and reminding employers of their responsibilities to pay people a fair wage for a fair day’s work, as well as ensuring that no-one is bullied or discriminated against.
I have always had a big interest in politics and the fight for social justice. My great aunt, Eleanor Rathbone, was one of the first female MPs. It took her over 30 years to get family allowances, now called Child Benefit, which taught me that you have to be persistent to achieve your goals in politics. Before being elected I worked in current affairs television for 20 years on programmes such as Granada’s World in Action and The BBC Money Programme. This gave me some experience in holding people to account for their actions and helped me identify things that need to change. Many of the stories I covered are still relevant to today’s issues, such as a Channel 4 series I produced in 1988 on the international debt crisis, as the problem of unaccountable financial institutions still needs urgent attention.
I am particularly passionate about ensuring every child gets a fair start in life. After I left the BBC, I managed an award-winning Sure Start programme. This was the most important initiative of the last UK Labour Government which re-shaped services to better meet the needs of families with children under 5, delivering services locally in the communities where families live. I have previously served on a health trust, and chaired independent NHS complaints panels investigating why things went wrong and the action required to learn from mistakes.
In the Senedd
In the Senedd my main interest is making sure we deliver on the Well-Being of Future Generations Act (2015). That means making sure the Welsh Government and all public services are delivering on sustainable housing, transport and energy systems fit for today and future generations. The biggest issues we face in Cardiff are air pollution and obesity which are quietly killing people.
I currently sit on three committees: the Equality, Local Government, and Communities Committee; the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee and the External Affairs (Brexit) Committee. Amongst a wide range of issues I have recently investigated are Maternity Rights at work to how Brexit will affect the food we eat. I am the Chair of the Cross Party Group on Food, which looks at a huge range of issues from making sure children get the food they need to concentrate on their learning to the distribution networks required to ensure everyone has access to quality, affordable food and combatting the more disreputable tactics of big food manufacturers.
Also, I am the species champion for the swift, a truly noble bird, which visits Cardiff over the summer months. Just because we live in the capital city does not mean we should be deprived of wildlife and vibrant green spaces. We need a lot more safe walking and cycling routes so everyone can enjoy the delights of active travel.