Since Christmas 2016 ‘our Drivers’ (Mac, Lawrence, Trevor, Sue, Gez, Julia, Ailsa and Sam) have taken quite large amounts of donated good to Swansea in their cars. Any donations of goods we receive are picked up from our drop off points (Lib Dems office Brecon, Talgarth Library and St Mary’s Hay) sorted in our office/store at Ty Mawr offices and any things we think unlikely to suit our partners in Swansea are donated on to other charities especially the Red Cross who do so much work around the world in troubled spots. Everything is then bagged or boxed ready for transport either to Swansea or to our respite/away days. And some things are brought directly to the store or to the venue of an away day.
Any donations of money are banked and agreement on expenditure is achieved via our regular meetings (you can find out when the next one is here). We have a small hardship fund administered by our treasurer with two nominated members to help oversee the use of monies. Our main expenditure is on transport for our away days but, in addition, when we have sufficient funds we try to support other groups working with people seeking asylum and refuge. You can see some of the projects that we have supported with monetary donations here.
Since Christmas, we have transported four loads of donated goods comprising bedding, clothing, kitchen equipment and assorted toys to Swansea Humanitarian Aid Response Project (SHARP), which have been received with delight – especially as we usually ensure that the donations are sorted, bagged and labelled. The large selection of clothing left after enthusiastic viewing at Penpont was all taken to SHARP soon afterwards and filled a Toyota Hilux.
Ruth Exell-Whitehart and colleagues who are helping Neezo (Nizar Dahan) to run the SHARP store have been able to contribute to several convoys of aid going to Greece and Syria and our donations have been included. SHARP’s Facebook page shows aid both leaving Swansea and arriving at its destination. SHARP have arranged for any unsuitable clothes to be sent to recycling firms in exchange for money to help their humanitarian projects or passed onto other charities. In addition, any people in Swansea or the surrounding area who need things such as clothing, bedding or kitchen equipment can be supplied from the store. This is only based upon need and not status, race or creed. SHARP also have links with various other groups who can help with supply of goods and distribution and good links with our friends at Unity in Diversity (UID).
In addition to this, ‘our Drivers’ have taken three loads of donated food and three or four loads of bedding and kitchen equipment to Unity in Diversity and one load of assorted goods to Swansea Bay Asylum Seekers Support Group (SBASSG). Ailsa has enjoyed at least one ‘liaison’ with Maria in Ystradgynlais to hand over goods and a call to our friends Ams and Jit at the Old Temp Fish bar is always most interesting and enjoyable. Of course both UID and SBASSG have had donations from each away day as well to share with people who are not able to join us on the day.
Mac was able to take a further large load this week when he went to UID to teach his IELTS class (International English Language Testing System – self styled ‘the high stakes English test for international study, migration and work’) and most importantly he delivered our cheque for £1000 which we had agreed to donate at our last meeting. This money will be used to pay the rent and for food as needed for the two evening drop ins run each week. The amount sent will pay for about 9 months running costs and reduces the pressure upon the volunteers at UID to fundraise in addition to helping at the sessions.
Of course we have also had several away days since Christmas (Cradoc and Penpont and the Hereford FC football trip), with large amounts of donated food, toiletries and secondhand goods that have been given directly to people seeking refuge who came or sent back to be shared at the drop ins. What a busy few months!
This is all made possible by the generosity of our supporters, our collection points at the Liberal Democrats Offices in Watergate, Brecon, St Mary’s Church in Hay and Talgarth Library, our store at the Ty Mawr offices (thanks to Kirsty Williams, Louis and Dyddanwy, Jan Shivel, Father Richard, Nigel and Joyce Morgan Jervis), Sue x2, Virginia, Brenda and Ailsa in the store and by our drivers Mac, Lawrence, Trevor, Sue, Gez, Julia, Ailsa and Sam. Thanks also to Morrisons for kind donations of crumpled, short date or end of lines, Aldi for perishable goods for away days and to Virginia and Penny for collecting these. Also thanks to the Brecon Foodbank (thanks Alix, Heather and many volunteers) who frequently give us food for our visitors for away days and also to Love at First Bake who have given us delicious gluten free cakes for our regular visitor who has a gluten intolerance.
Thanks to everyone who contributes in any way, whether through donating goods or money or helping us in collecting , storing, sorting or transporting or with our days out. We know we could not do much at all without the marvellous support that we have had. Diolch yn fawr iawn.