Sarah, accompanied by 16 young people who are seeking sanctuary in Newport, drove up in her minibus to the cheers of her passengers and welcome from Jackie, Phil, Dafydd, Rob, Jane, Fred, Ellen and Ailsa. On this occasion there was no mishap on the journey, everyone had wellies and raincoats and the food had been purchased. And of course it rained!
Indeed Sarah was so early that the kettle hadn’t boiled. So while Jackie gave a safety briefing and people decided what they wanted to do first, Ellen and Ailsa started to lay out the food and will the kettle to warm up! We were delighted to meet Jane Dodds who is the prospective Lib Dem Parliamentary candidate . She had arranged to call in as she was in the area and wanted to see the sort of things that HBTSR do. Her six years working with the Refugee Council in charge of child protection has given her a wealth of relevant experience. An insight she shared with us was the need to remember that the phrase ‘unaccompanied minor’ is used by the Home Office to de-humanise and stigmatise -these are children in need of care. Jane also recognised the issues people seeking asylum face in accessing appropriate Mental Health care and offered to send Sarah some contact details that should prove useful.
Six young men went with Rob to split logs, another six people went to help make charcoal and several stayed with Phil to make bird boxes whilst the sole girl stayed to chat and wander between projects.
Then Jackie and Dafydd who is from Bees for Development started to check upon the bees. This drew most people away from other tasks for a while. Several couldn’t understand why they were dressed in such outfits. ‘At home we strip off, put honey on ourselves and never get stung when we take the honey away’, said one person. M was happy to pick up bees- ‘this one is alive but very sad’. We all wanted to taste the honey but sadly there wasn’t enough to take any away. Last years bumper crop of 70 jars was sold to help finance the woodland project. Three lucky people were given wax angels and Jackie presented Sarah with a wax icon as a momento of the day.
The kettle finally boiled and tea and coffee was made. The halal chicken and beefburgers were put onto the barbecue [ along with wild garlic leaves found by Ellen] and whilst several of us walked around the site, others stayed to watch over the food or to keep working.
Lunch seemed to vanish quickly and then Phil helped to guide us around a walk up to a footpath and along the canal. Many photos were taken and views were admired. Many of the young people were from rural backgrounds and were pleased to talk about the differences they could see in the animals and farming methods. Thankfully bears and wolves are not a problem we face.
The fallen tree proved a magnet for photos
And all too soon Sarah announced it was time to leave and left over fruit, biscuits, crisps, and cake was parceled up. As goodbyes were said many were asking to come again. Maybe by bus or train?
thanks to Jackie Charlton and volunteers at Alder Carr for the welcome and allowing people to visit . It was such a good day