Despite the uncertainty that lies ahead of us, I wish you a happy and peaceful New Year. As the negotiations continue this year, my New Year's resolution, as always, is to ensure that the interests of Wales are protected and promoted. My thanks to all of you who have been in touch with me during the last twelve months, for whatever reason. I encourage as much dialogue as possible with my constituents so I know I speak on your behalf.
We are well and truly getting back to normal after Christmas and the New Year, but for some in Wales the celebrations are not yet over. Next Saturday the 13th of January, the people of the Gwaun valley in Pembrokeshire will celebrate Hen Galan, the old New Year as marked by the Julian calendar.
The Julian calendar was abolished controversially in 1752 and replaced with the Gregorian calendar, which was approved by Pope Gregory XIII nearly 200 years earlier. But the people of the Gwaun Valley and some other parts of the country still mark it. I wonder what traditions will survive and which will change in the next 250 years.
The same applies to communities. Wales has a long history of welcoming migrants from all over the globe. They have enriched our communities and strengthened our economy. Because of the recent refugee crisis, there are nearly 400 Syrian refugees in Wales, contributing to life in our communities.
So I welcomed the call by Sian Gwenllian, Arfon Assembly Member, for Wales to become a Nation of Sanctuary ensure that those fleeing from persecution and oppression get proper support to settle in their new communities. Towns such as Aberystwyth have welcomed refugees but we need the same support across the country.
There are seven steps to be taken to become a Nation of Sanctuary, including a national migration strategy, funding and support services. This would mean much more involvement of the Welsh Government together with local authorities.
Wales can play a valuable role on the global stage by taking such steps. We have to take action to build the kind of nation we want. We have to look not just at what 2018 will bring but at what we can do to make it better.