Each time we plan a Welcome Day, we worry about whether we will have enough people to help, enough food, biscuits, cake, fruit, enough drinks, enough to do,some take away gifts, will the weather be ok, will anyone turn up? On this occasion, there were especial worries as I was away until the morning of the event, several of the usual coordinators were away or ill, the venue rural and sparsely populated, quite a lot of equipment was needed, Wayne had struggled to find anyone to escort [Thanks to Mark for stepping up and to Maria for driving down] and although we’d frozen some food from a previous outing we were particularly worried about the quantity of the food being insufficient. We need not have worried as our magnificent supporters had rallied round, enlisted some new helpers and reached out to friends, provided salads, cake, biscuits, take away gifts and as always we had plentiful people to prepare food, to set up the venue, to provide activities and chat, to tidy up and to keep anyone from flagging.
When the bus arrived with 41 people onboard there were over 60 people ready with our hosts Carla and David to welcome them, provide a hot drink, a run down about the day and plentiful fruit and biscuits. The Kitchen team were bonded and busy by the time I arrived, the Welcomer’s desk set up in a rather draughty entrance[ Sorry Carla and David if we broke the door] , the activities in the lovely warm Conservatory [ even warmer thank to Alex and the pizza oven] The outdoor activities of badminton, croquet and boules ready and waiting, The play pen in the drawing room, The drinks station in the hallway, the dining room starting to show evidence of the culinary skills of so many and the weather cold but sunny.
Amongst the guests were some old friends and many new. Thanu and Gayan came with some delicious dahl and noodles so we were able to celebrate a week of good news for them. Their daughter was granted British citizenship having been born here but not seemingly eligible without an application to the Home Office and payment. Stuart came up from Cardiff with foster children and plenty of outdoor activities for which he was ready to provide a running commentary. Neil called in on a flying visit from Australia to participate with yet another day, to provide some photos, to discuss tree heights, to take out ticks and to explore and chat. He says he’ll be back again and loves the whole concept and practice of the days out.
The Dream pillow cases were popular as always and lovingly provided by Sue. The concept is to draw happy thoughts onto a pillow case that will help you to have happy dreams. Alison and some other Glasbury Crafters provided wool, frames and expertise to allow people to make headbands and such like. Some lovely work was available at the end of the day. There was a steady stream of people wanting to help Alex and to eat the produce from the pizza oven. Cards with Liz arrived to take over from Sue and again a number of people made some beautiful cards. Music provided by Carla and friends in the conservatory provided and lovely soundscape to the activities. The playpen allowed some parents a break from constant watchfulness- both local and visiting!
Tours of the amazing house were very popular amongst visitors and supporters alike and Carla was asked if she was part of the royal family. Everyone was impressed by the history of the house and the beauty of the gardens though G noted ‘It would be very hard to keep the house warm’. The treasure hunt arranged by Mike was very popular although he had to help some people to solve the puzzle and follow the map. Self guided garden tours went on throughout the day and a walk across to the church and the bird hide with Colin and Wally was enjoyed by many although some became lost and had to be rallied round by Mark. ‘Splat the rat’ and deck quoits with Stuart’s commentary attracted many young people of all ages and ethnicities. The badminton and croquet were played with varying degrees of seriousness and skill.
Pony rides around the grounds were popular with several children refusing to dismount until they had been round several times. One young girl with a broken arm[ thankfully sustained elsewhere] was able to have a ride and even toddlers were accommodated. Sarah had brushed and tacked up the ponies being unsure what to expect but said she’d really enjoyed herself. And we discovered that Reg who had volunteered to help had been a jockey in the past and Vanessa who also helped with our equestrian pursuits, has a background of children and ponies as well as being our regular bike transporter! – So many of our supporters have so many unexpected skills that are revealed in passing.
Face painting was as popular as ever once Penny and Mike had found some paints and Kathy started what may become a new trend of allowing everyone to paint each other – the results may not have been quite so professional as sometimes but were done with great enthusiasm.
One child had a fall into the pond but was swiftly rescued by Mark[ and others] and dried and clothes changed. Trainers were still damp on departure however. Some paracetamol for toothache allowed us to talk about how to seek emergency dental treatment and opportunities were found to discuss future plans now refugee status was achieved, requests for specific kitchen equipment and hardship expenditure were all fitted in around everything else. Apologies to the lady who wanted to be shown where to change her baby- I never made it back although I know someone else did. Thanks!
Lunch and tea were delicious, plentiful and of great variety. The Kitchen team were like a well oiled machine turning round food, plates, cups in short order.We were able to send some bags of cake back with the bus. Take away bags of toiletries and groceries were loaded up and Maria had a carload of Female hygiene products, nappies, toiletries, kitchen ware and some clothes for a newly arrived family. Some cakes were taken to be frozen for another day and supporters were able to take some food for supper after everyone had their fill.
A splendid day and maybe an annual event? Carla and David said how much they had enjoyed everyone’s company , hoped we would return and that the joy of so many people was infectious. Maybe if we return we will need to use the gong or megaphone to summon people as several had embarked upon a final tour of the area when others were waiting to go.
Many many thanks to Carla and David for the warm welcome and use of their stunning house and gardens and for lots of hard work before, during and [probably] after the day.[. Shows David by very big beech tree]
To Penny and Mike S, Jonnie and Tina and Margaret and Melrose for coordination, hard work and flexibility
To Alex and Kathy for pizza, flatbreads, good humour and hard work -Oh and some delicious home made breads…
To Stuart for arriving with outdoor games and spontaneity,
To Sarah for the ponies,equipment and to Vanessa and Reg for assistance,
To Sue for the Dream pillows,
To Alison and the Glasbury Crafters for weaving and other activities,
To Liz and friends for card making,
To Llangasty hall for the loan of chairs and tables,
To Lou and Miv for plates and cutlery,
To Phil, Penny L, Mac, Margaret and others for Welcomers duties,
To Colin and Wally for leading the walk,
To Mike for the Treasure hunt,
To Jane for the playpen,
To Virginia for signage,
To Alison of the Walled Garden for welcoming so many visitors,
To Nigel, Joyce and Rae at Ty Mawr for inviting people to see their garden
To Neil for photography, surgery and geometry!
To Jasper and Mari Fforde for a Cash and Carry shopping spree that helped us to provide take home bags.
To Janet for an Aldi run.
To the large band of helpers in the kitchen including Penny S, Jonnie, Alison, Melrose, Ellen, Claire, Val, Tim,Lynne, Alma, Shaun, Barbara, Hilary, Laura and Joe,
To all who came to help bringing cakes, salads, fruit, toiletries and food including Hannah, Sally, Colin,Pauline, Rachel, Chris, Dante, Talee, Shaun, Patrick, Hilary, Owen, Tom, Miles and many others including children.
To all who gave donations that we have been able to share.
On Saturday May 4 th, a group of 40+ asylum seeking men, women and children from Swansea (and some volunteers) enjoyed the generous hospitality of David Raikes and Carla Rapoport at the stunning Treberfydd House in Llangasty Brecon. We cannot thank them enough for their hands- on welcome, and positive participation, for a day that will last in the memories of many, for a long time. We were privileged to experience a relaxing day, in luxurious (yet unpretentious) surroundings, in a stately home that was evidently lived- in and had a ‘homely’ feel. Carla was a wonderful (and patient) guide, giving informative tours around the house. Our friends were wowed by the history, the beauty and the peace of the building and its surroundings. Many, many thanks to David and Carla for their generosity, empathy and open-hearted welcome to a group of people that, in everyday life, do not generally feel welcome. In addition to the house are wonderful surroundings, including a croquet lawn and a walled garden. All of this would not have been possible without the dedication, love and seriously hard work of the team from Hay Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees, who unfailingly provide a professional and quality welcome, which in my view is unparalled. The effort, time and generosity is acknowledged and appreciated beyond measure.
Activities were provided throughout the day which kept all occupied and happy. Time and again I heard what a difference these days made to our friends. Tensions and worries were forgotten whilst children were happily occupied, which meant their parents could chat and relax in the sunshine. Alex, an ever present wonder, aided pizza making, a team of wonderful people provided art and craft activities, including card making, knitting and weaving, and delighted children wandered around with beautifully painted faces. Badminton was enjoyed by some newly arrived men who relaxed with their friends. Pony rides were a highlight thanks to Sarah.
Welcome drinks, fruit and snacks were followed by a sumptuous lunch. Many, many, kind hearted people had contributed to the feast, including Guyan and Thanu. A team worked in the kitchen non- stop, preparing and clearing up throughout the day. Grateful thanks to the musicians who gave of their time
and skills to ‘serenade’ those in the dining room. Before leaving, an array of ‘to die for’ home -made cakes were served with drinks. All ‘left overs’ were wrapped and given to the guests on leaving, along with bags of generous donations of food and toiletries. These will make next week a lot easier. Nothing goes to waste – a car full of additional goods were packed to be distributed in Swansea, to those who had not been able to attend.
Anonymous donors of toiletries, sanitary products, toiletries, clothes and food should not underestimate the difference they make to people surviving on just
over £35 a week.
Throughout the day, many of the HBSTR volunteers mingled, engaged, chatted and ‘served’ our friends who appreciate their smiles and interest. There are too
many to mention individually, but each one made a difference. Throughout the day there was much understated ‘networking’. Individual
hardship cases were discussed discreetly, there is a sharing of professional and experiential information that may, in the long term, help individuals and their
families. Members of HBTSR are aware of particular hardship cases and provide financial and moral support, through local volunteers, who are involved on a daily
We cannot describe in words, the difference that the support HBTSR offers to asylum seekers and refugees throughout South Wales. Much of this is
undocumented and will never be known. It will never be forgotten in the hearts of those, who benefitted from the genuine concern, friendship and support in
their hour of need. Through their actions, people such as David Raikes and his wife Carla become involved and world becomes a better place, albeit sometimes
for a short while.
Thank you all, from all of us from Swansea. May our friendship continue and grow….
Message from Carla
What a wonderful day in all ways – thanks to you and the wonderful gang at HBTSR. We’d love to do it again! Next time, we can offer tractor rides – why didn’t we think of that?
—All looks neat as a pin and back to normal here at Treberfydd. Hope the rest of your weekend is lovely and peaceful!