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A busy weekend and another perfect day at Penpont

Claire, Maureen and Maria with Steve looking on

What were we thinking about to have stalls in both Brecon and Hay on Black Friday weekend AND an away day? Well it all worked out and we are both financially and mentally better off and we have loads of signatures on  petitions to give to Mr Davies our MP.

Hay Winter Festival and the Fair-Trade market gave us the opportunity to provide teas and coffees, have petitions signed, sell some books and raffle tickets and tell people about our group. Claire organised a team to do all this and Rachel came to help sell raffle tickets around Hay.They had some super conversations I’m told and raised £267 and also sold £250 worth of Raffle tickets… Thanks to Claire , Rachel, Steve, Maria, Maureen, Barbara, Peter, Eleanor, Hilary and Juliet for hard work and raising so much! And to supporters who called by to offer help and support.

Brecon Artisan market gave out ‘propaganda’ Teddies [ Thanks for providing these Janet! They are all labelled asking for a home and hoping that a child will look after them as they had had to flee their homes] and obtained more signatures and had more good conversations. Brenda kindly organised this and she, Steve and Ailsa met with the Market organisers on Saturday evening to help set up. Well to be truthful, Steve carried trestle tables around after a full day in Hay whilst Brenda and I made appreciative noises and moved chairs around! Thanks to the Sunday volunteers Melrose, Janet, Penny, Sally, Stuart and Lis  for their hard work selling another £118 of raffle tickets and raising a further £130 +. I’m told everyone they spoke to either knew of us already or were supportive which is very heartening.

And so to Penpont which was as successful as ever. It really is an absolutely delightful venue with a lovely warm building to wander around, a dining area with a  blazing wood burning stove, a purpose made kitchen and additional rooms that we used for  putting out the many donated clothes and kitchenware, as a quiet prayer area and a children’s play area that doubled as a performance space when the magnificent Goffee dropped by to entertain and a face-painting venue. In addition to all this there were the wonderful horses who gave rides to children and adults throughout the day, the table tennis and the walks.


The walks split into three in the end. Vina took a group of adults and children on a shorter walk to the vegetable gardens and then to the maze whilst Gavin took a mainly adult group through the maze, under the road and  into the Cwm. When this group reached the ruined house a smaller group still led by Bridie headed further on whilst the rest returned on the other side of the stream. The weather had been very kind and  underfoot was not too muddy or slippy. The wooded valley is beautiful and we saw bracket fungus and many lichens as well as beautiful views and many photo opportunities.  I walked with E  and baby daughter who could hardly believe anyone lived in such a beautiful setting and that the house wasn’t a museum. He spoke for everyone when he expressed his gratitude at having seen such a lovely place and how much he appreciated Gavin and Vina sharing it with us.

As always the food was superb and Jacqui  took charge of the kitchen ably assisted by many people. Philip kindly led the welcoming team and all  of us had a lovely day out.

We were able to provide all the people who attended with bags of toiletries and a box of fresh eggs thoughfully and generously provided by Liz and Paul Matthews.  Jacqui had also arranged for a supply of helium and balloons so all children had at least one balloon to go home with although many flew away… . Her thoughfulness was very much appreciated..



 Many thanks to

Gavin and Vina and family for all their hard work and generosity and the walks,

Margaret for coordinating HBTSR efforts,

To Liz and Paul for the eggs,

To Fiona, Fiona and Mary  and ponies for their hard work and kindness.

To Jacqui for cooking and providing balloons,

To  Penny and Andrew for an Aldi run and Virginia for signs and Coop shopping,

To Goffee the clown for entertainment

To Bridie for face painting and walks

to  Cooks and purchasers of delicious stews, cakes, biscuits, fruit, drinks etc

to Lynne, Philip, Stephen, Steve, Meryl,  Bridie, Lorena, Sue, Moira, Vince, Alma,Susie,  Chris, Sharon [and any others I’ve missed ]for friendship, thoughtfulness and work

to all who donated clothing , toiletries etc. Any clothing left will be taken next week to Swansea Humanitarian Aid Response project who  send aid to Calais, Greece, Syria and other places.

Thanks from Maria

Good evening everyone,
No doubt , like us, you have arrived home exhausted, but uplifted and changed by another respite day. This is our fourth visit to Penpont house, thanks to the generosity of Davina and Gavin who welcome us in an understated but warm and empathetic way.
Each day at Penpont has been different. Different weather, different activities, (some) different people but always the same welcome, warmth and smiles at the end of the day.
It is impossible to put into words the positive effect a day like this has on our friends and ourselves. Although, as volunteers, we do what we can on a daily/ weekly basis, the need is so great that it sometimes seems like a drop in the ocean. Maybe an hour’s drive out of Swansea into the countryside, where the welcome is unbelievable ( I am yet to find an adjective that truly describes this adequately) a group of isolated , traumatised, stressed and displaced people find temporary calm, peace and contentment. Anyone that meets these people cannot fail to be impressed by their dignity, strength, courage and gratitude. It has to be experienced to be believed.
As long term volunteers. we are buoyed and supported by this fantastic group, HBTSR, who are mostly unaware of the extent of the impact their support makes.This was the 37th day they have organised… How many lives have they touched?
Today, we were initially disappointed that out of 59 names, 30 turned up. We worried if HBTSR would question if these days were viable. Thankfully, most of the members we spoke to,showed empathy and understanding to the many reasons this sometimes happens. The positive side of this was that it allowed many volunteers to engage in meaningful conversations, and create valuable personal connections that can only be made in smaller, more intimate groups. Every single person benefitted from a conversation with maybe a previous stranger, who showed genuine interest in their situation and real heartfelt empathy with another human being.
Outsiders sometimes comment on our ‘good works’ , I am without doubt that everyone involved in today would agree that it is a privilege to spend time with our friends and are enriched by the experience.
A lady N from Pakistan, told me that she spent the first 5 years in Swansea at home, never going out, until by chance she found out about our groups. She has now met others and feels happier, speechless about the kindness shown by the group today.
N from Kurdistan, has been refused by the Home Office and is homeless , with no financial support whatsoever. He is intelligent, proud and articulate. He owned two houses and a business before he they were taken over by ISIS. His choice was to join them or escape. He speaks five languages and is keen to help others. He loves these days when he is free to talk about history, language and culture.
Several families are struggling with a parent suffering from depression. A day like today gives them a lift, a reason to smile.
F from Somalia has been in Swansea for 2 months and is grateful for friendship. I observed Gavin listen empathetically to a young Eritrean who described his journey to the UK , culminating in clinging to the underside of a lorry for five hours, Davina hugging a traumatised lady and genuinely asking her to visit again.
The main sentence we hear is, ” these people are so kind, so lovely” , followed by the effect the fresh air and countryside has on their mental health.
I am so proud to be linked to, and benefit from this, group of like minded individuals. In a climate of hostility towards immigrants, it is heartening to witness generosity of pocket, time and spirit.
Particular thanks are extended to Gavin and Davina for their generous and continued support! Margaret and Pat who organised the day, Jackie and the team in the kitchen who never fail to impress, the wonderful ladies who organised the pony rides, the face painting and the laughter supplied by the ‘clown’ ( sorry I don’t know your name).
Thanks to all who had any involvement in supplying household goods and clothes. Many were gratefully received by guests, many were taken back to Swansea to be distributed at the drop ins.
A Christmas tree, supplied by Margaret now has messages written on baubles from visitors of all religions. We operate in an atmosphere of tolerance, acceptance and respect of differences.
Thank you to everyone who played any part in today’s success and may you never underestimate the difference it makes.
In gratitude,
All of us from Swansea xx