Open Letter to Welsh Parliament: 


Open letter to Welsh Parliament: Delivered by hand to The Senedd 27/02/24

Mind The Gap
Dear Members of The Senedd, and the people of Wales,

My name is Donna James, and I am the Chief Executive Officer of Mind Ystradgynlais. Although
one of the most prominent voices at times, we at Ystradgynlais are one of the smallest within
the Mind network. Through necessity we often shout the loudest to be heard, to be seen, to be
acknowledged. We released a video entitled ‘Invincible’ with Michael Sheen some months ago,
to become more visible: .

I have now taken it upon myself to personally write this letter and have handed
it personally to several members of The Senedd on Tuesday 27th February 2024, accompanied
by some of my staff and board of trustees at Mind Ystradgynlais. We have made it our duty to
ensure that the letter has landed with the right people, in the right places.

I speak with the echoing voices of our Welsh community of Ystradgynlais and surrounding areas behind me, and
am confident that other leaders within the Mind network will share my sentiment, as they will
undoubtedly be facing similar challenges. However, the content and expressions made within
this this letter are my own and that of Mind Ystradgynlais. My hope, or the little of it that is
left, is that me speaking up will help the Mind network in its entirety, and in turn, the
people of Wales more broadly.

We at Ystradgynlais alongside my colleagues within the Mind network provide much needed
services to the community, frequently filling the gaps that the NHS don’t have capacity to cater
for: We don’t allow people to fall through the gaps, despite the gaps not
necessarily being ours to fill, and us not being funded proportionately by government to ‘Mind
the gap’ as it were. We are the key workers. We are the people who would have received the
cheers that rippled through the valleys when people clapped enthusiastically on the doorsteps
during the pandemic. We are those who see people. We are those who sit with the broken and
depleted, those struggling to deal with the pressures of life. It’s us who provide them with the
hope they need, even when it is lacking within ourselves. The pandemic is behind us, the
applause has faded, and the money has dried up; but the people in distress keep coming,
perhaps arguably now in even larger numbers and with more complex needs. I am writing this
candid and somewhat raw letter to raise awareness of the struggles currently faced by the
3rd sector, those who ‘Mind The Gap’, where the government has been unable to meet demand
of our broken society. I frequently tell people who come to our door that ‘There is hope, even
when your brain tells you there isn’t’, but lately, the very optimism I place and instil in others,
no longer rings true to me as a leader, much less as a person.

The 3rd sector is collapsing, under the pressures of the state. We face key challenges in
funding, including core costs and long-term reserves. Should this continue much longer, it will
surely have a detrimental effect on those vulnerable individuals we are working with. Please
can you help us. The UK Parliament passed legislation in 2022 agreeing to the release of
hundreds of millions of pounds of dormant assets to be used for ‘good causes’. This money,
which comes largely from shares and pension funds mirrors the process used a decade ago
when dormant bank accounts money was used to set up specific Lottery funding programmes
around support for young people, debt and addressing climate change. In 2022 the Act was
expanded, meaning an additional £880m became available.

Measures to release £880 million from dormant assets to boost opportunities across the
country – GOV.UK (
I estimate therefore that approximately £44m will be made in Wales, over a 10–15-year
period. I am aware that this funding must be used for environmental or social purposes and
cannot be used as a substitute for government spending. As you will be aware, how the
funding is used is devolved, and the consultation to determine how it is spent is live: Future
spending purposes for dormant assets funding in Wales [HTML] | GOV.WALES

The consultation includes four options, all of which of course worthy. However, we have strong
and convincing evidence from the work that we do daily here that ‘Community Action’ is
required. It will not just help Mind Ystradgynlais, but the whole Mind network and other 3rd
sector organisations alike. The closing date for responses is tomorrow: 28th February 2024.
As such, can I ask any member of the public reading this, who believes this to be a helpful way
to spend the funds to please complete the below and respond online: Future spending
purposes for dormant assets funding in Wales | GOV.WALES. I ask politicians reading this to
please lend their support to the 3rd sector when the consultation is complete and consider
us in any future spending decisions, as we truly do require more assistance than we
currently get.

The struggles of the 3rd sector could be solved in the form of the Dormant Assets Scheme, the
gaps we are filling could be closed. £44m over a 10–15-year period will offer a substantial
injection into the community sector. Please may I ask that anyone reading this will try to
understand and hear our call. We are here for the community, but we are not invincible!


Please… Mind The Gap.

Yours sincerely
Donna James
Chief Executive Officer
Email: [email protected]