some of the take home bags and this young boy cried until he was reassured that he could take his new digger home
After such a wonderful day full of joy and happiness, it is hard to recollect that so many of these lovely people are living with terrible memories of past traumas and having to face the hostile environment of the Home Office whilst living in poverty in slum style accommodation. For the day these worries and problems vanished and many good memories were made and shared.
As Phil tried to leave he noted a flat tyre and had plenty of helpful advice and concern. Once everyone else had tried to help, C sorted it so we didn’t have to resort to Gez and the large mallet…
As volunteers, we do not take for granted the quality of these days. How can the food be any better? The welcome more warm? Each and every time, we and our friends are greeted with familiar warmth, a wonderful day ensues, and a large group of men, women and children leave in a different frame of mind than when they arrived. The difference is palpable.
We work with our friends on a weekly, sometimes daily basis. We are stretched, but try to give them our time and attention. Often, this is not enough- a few minutes and a smile is better than nothing, but we know that many need more.
The days that HBTSR host offer true respite. We worry about the weather, the numbers and whether we have enough ‘ sick bags’ for the bus. HBTSR hosts probably worry if there is enough food ( there always is!), the weather, the number of goodie bags and entertainment etc etc. Yet, without fail, a day ensues where we witness our friends visibly relax, smile, laugh and enjoy the ‘normal’ things in life.
Today, we enjoyed a wonderful day at Bronllys, organised by the wonderful Sue and Gez. Melrose was ever present in the kitchen with a fantastic team of helpers. We were happy to see many familiar faces, and new people who are always welcome and appreciated. We would like to thank each and every one for their part in another positive and life affirming day. We would like to thank those, not present on the day, but who had kindly shopped, cooked, donated and fundraised in order for it to be so successful. Thanks always to Ailsa who quietly and efficiently coordinates everything.
Today was another different day. We had visited Bronllys before, but with a different group of people. Steve, quietly ever present, helped the day to run smoothly. Alex and his family generously contributed an enormous amount of fantastic home made bread, and their presence added to the day. Dishes miraculously disappeared and were washed up. Fresh fruit, home made cakes and various beverages were ever present.
The weather was not good, meaning there was a slightly smaller number of guests than usual. This however, allowed a more intimate day. I witnessed a lot of people chatting with our hosts one to one. Jenga was very popular. One young man who is usually isolated became engrossed in the game. One lady that I had not seen before was introduced to me by one of our friends. She said, ” I started talking to x because he was looking sad.” She was right. He was sad. She noticed and made a difference to his day. A wonderful walk ,led by Gez was enjoyed by many.
As a result of a slightly smaller number of people, I became more aware of how some HBTSR members quietly maintain contact with our friends throughout the year. Continuing on from these respite days, relationships have been formed which have transformed lives. One couple have supported a single mother through pregnancy, birth and beyond. They visit this mum regularly in Swansea , and also meet for coffee with two delightful young Sudanese men who really benefit from this interaction. A couple offered support to a man who has waited for 5 years for his visa , and now needs a guarantor in order to secure accommodation. This will change his life.
Many offer support to our friends who have the frightening experience of attending interviews with the Home Offfice, and Court appearances in Newport. This requires time and patience – money cannot buy it. HBTSR supporters offer it! It changes lives.
I was most taken today with a conversation I had with a lovely lady from Pakistan. She has two children, one is disabled, and she has only recently started to attend drop ins and access other support. She had stayed indoors for two years alone. N could not believe the kindness of the people that hosted today. She reiterated how something may seem small to the person giving, but to the recipient in need , it is worth the world. She said she felt ‘at home’ in Bronllys, it was like her village in Pakistan. She said when her children were older she wanted to contribute and help to do what they were doing. Time and time again, our friends tell us of the kindness, the welcome and the acceptance they feel on these days. N said, ” maybe people in the cities know we are asylum seekers ,that we are too many and they don’t want us, but here, we are welcome and wanted and feel special- I love it.”
Fresh flowers placed on the tables are noticed, and given to men and women alike, as they get on the bus. As we left, the sun came out and we saw Bronllys and the surrounding hills in all their glory – peaceful, “fresh” and healing.
I feel proud, heartened and uplifted to be in the company of this amazing group of people. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to you all.
From all of us from Swansea who benefited from this wonderful day.
One says, ‘I like the mountains and the sheep. Maybe tomorrow I will die but today I have a nice day’…