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Refugees Find Fun and Friendship in Brecon

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(c) FYI:Brecon

A happy time was had by all when a group of refugees, living in Swansea, recently visited Brecon for a day out. The weather was kind and many of the volunteers and guests will have memories of happy people, a mix of activity and relaxation, mountains of food, sunshine and an overall lovely warm atmosphere.

Forty-five men, women and children enjoyed a range of activities, good food and friendship. The opportunity to engage in a variety of crafts was offered in the morning (thank you Antonia, Eugene, Tim, Emma, Carrie and Ellie) whilst many of the guests enjoyed simply walking around the town. A delicious traditional Welsh cawl was made for lunch (thank you Steve), which was enjoyed by about 60 people with there being enough for most people to take away a portion at the end of the day.

asm r7 hilda group.750x473 compressedIn the afternoon, much fun was had at the playing fields near the Theatre with ball games and a Samba band playing on the playing fields, which was welcomed by all. The visit finished at The Muse with afternoon tea including a superb range of cakes and harp music (the talented Welsh harpist turned the Muse into a proper tea party) before the guests returned to Swansea with gifts of food, clothing and toys.

David Meredith and Kirsty Williams were generous with their time and the Scout hut and Muse were superb venues. It was great that some of the local scouts, with parents, joined us, some children who had previously made friends came along and it was also lovely that 6 young people joined our crew in a game of volleyball in the park… and they came back to the Muse to join us for tea afterwards.

asm r10 ian sean.750x444 compressedOne of the organisers commented: “It was lovely to see how the people of Brecon welcomed the refugees, greeting them and joining in the games at the park”. The day provided a much needed break from the everyday isolation and difficulties that the refugees experience. One of the visitors, a young mother from Bangladesh, said “Every day is stress, but today is fun”.

Some quotes from participants that sums up the day well: “Yesterday was wonderful in so many ways. Hats off to Everyone in Brecon for your loving efforts and contributions!” and “It was a pleasure for me, to be invited along to spend time and to break bread with people from around the World less fortunate than myself”.

asm r6 ali and sudan.750x532 compressedWe have so many to thank including Aldi, the Cooperative, Caroline’s Real Breads Company, The Hours, Richards Butchers in Crickhowell who gave a good price on Halal lamb and the Food bank who donated food so everyone was able to leave with much appreciated large bags of food and donated clothes, toys and kitchenware. A big thank you also to the local organisations who provided facilities and entertainment, and all the volunteers who so kindly donated food, clothing, toys and kitchen equipment, and worked so hard to ensure that all were well fed. A special thank you to Penny and Andrew for arranging a superb day of activities and Ian and Hilda for coordinating the food. Thank you also to Unity in Diversity and the Swansea Bay Asylum Seekers Support Group without whom the day would not have been possible. Last but not least – the day was part funded by some anonymous donations and fundraising at the working men’s club. Thank you to all of those who donated!

asm r3 oman.750x504 compressedMaria (the Swansea Bay Asylum Seekers Support Group coordinator) wrote afterwards: “I am writing on behalf of everyone from Swansea who was fortunate enough to be a guest in Brecon -what a day! An enormous “Thank you” from us all – although I know that many feel this word is inadequate to express the appreciation felt. 

It was great to put faces to names of people that I had only previously communicated with via email. What a fantastic group of people. It is always difficult to thank individuals, with a fear of missing out many who contributed towards the success of the day. However, particular thanks to Penny and Andrew for coordinating the numerous, well received activities, to Hilda and Ian for coordinating the all day ‘feast’, to Kirsty and David who generously shared their time and skills and to Ailsa for ‘ being there’. We would like to thank and acknowledge each and every one of the workers in the background – the cake makers, the sorters, those serving tea and coffee, the ‘washer uperers’ and for the lovely touches of flowers on the beautifully laid tables. The children’s comfortable presence was a bonus (especially for the football lovers) and the lovely dog.

asm r4 muse.750x451 compressedI think most would agree that the atmosphere was relaxed and one of warmth, acceptance and friendship – enjoyed by all , but not least by our friends, most of whom are thousands of miles away from their homes, families and cultures. There is nothing like going home with a loaf of homemade bread to feel loved.

Looking forward to meeting you all again,

A little feedback from Hilary was that a young man who is a refugee living elsewhere came for the day to Brecon and enjoyed it so much. His friends reported that they had never seen him so happy and his smile was almost fixed to his face!

Our group exists to provide friendship and support for refugees living in Swansea, Cardiff and abroad. If you would like to know more about our work, please get in touch.