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Christmas came early to Penpont

How to begin to write about yet another wonderful day at Penpont? Yet again, Gavin and Vina opened their home and gardens to HBTSR and a coachload of people from Swansea who are seeking Sanctuary . Yet again there was a constant production line of wonderful food and drinks from the kitchen coordinated by Jackie and a very well practiced team of supporters. There were horses, crafts, face painting, clothes, walks and the magnificent Live and Kicking choir to entertain. There was the wonderful friendly atmosphere and the fires both indoor and outdoors. There was opportunity to catch up , to chat, to meet new people and to be immersed again in the beauty of the surroundings and marvel at the generosity of our hosts in sharing this all with us. For a change we also had alpacas that people could pat and walk with  and the weather was almost fine!

Maria and Michael

Much that I might have said is even more eloquently written by Maria below . So here are little snippets that stuck with me. The chance to meet up with Michael for whom we campaigned when he was detained. He is so happy to be free ( albeit still waiting for the legal processes ) and to show photos of his beautiful son and wife. P who is going to appeal for refuge next month was able to meet with some of the team who will go to support him and we were able to agree to pay travel expenses so his friend could go with him.  Adil carrying a large piece of wood that will be turned into a chopping block by the family who have just had their Leave to Remain confirmed. The faces of people watching the choir and the transformation of a couple who often look very sad as they sang and clapped along with the music. The choir’s songs seemed so appropriate especially The  Long Road to Freedom and their warmth  and enthusiasm was contagious doubtless inspired by Tanya their conductor. The children   with beautifully painted faces, carrying large plates of cakes and wearing badges that they had made with Pat. The joy of a young man who used to round up sheep on a horse when he was farming at getting back onto a horse- ‘much bigger than the horses at home’. The mum who had never ridden who fell in love with the horse- ‘I’d love to have him’. Simon telling me about visiting Matthew’s House in Swansea and being able to talk to H who volunteers there regularly. The alpacas walking by the elephant hedge with children leading them  H who had come on the service bus to catch up with a few of her local friends.  T who had come so he could thank people who had been to court with him. C telling us about how having support when he went to court made him feel that nothing could go wrong and how his heart had felt like it was going to burst when the leave to remain letter arrived.

Photos from the walk, the choir, Adil with the wood, the dogs and the list of activities







THANKS TO everyone who made this wonderful day possible.

Gavin and Vina for walks

Simon and Alan for excellent live music at lunchtime (fiddle & guitar)

Alan and Simon playing

Tanya and  the Alive ‘n’ Kicking choir
Louise and Nick for bringing their alpacas.
Fiona, Ceri and Emily for pony rides
Pat for Badge  making and colouring activities
Jackie, Moira, Vince, Julia , Lynne and Claire – a most excellent kitchen team
Vina, Gavin and family for making us all so welcome
Vina for face painting
Liz for all the eggs; both on the day and those Swansea-bound
And, of course  all.tbose who donated food – both fresh and dried and toiletries –  as well as all the many helpers; more than thirty of us all.
I know that these days only happen because we have such a brilliant team – and good liaison with Swansea. Thanks to everyone. And Thanks to our guests who always make any day seem brighter and better.
 From Margaret to Tanya
I just want to stress my thanks to you  for All that you and the choir did for us yesterday, especially as you had that big concert the night before.
Clearly your performance was very much enjoyed by all. Isn’t it marvellous how music transcends barriers! It was also very kind of you to incorporate O  into the performance; very affirming for him.  Talking with another of our guests after your performance,  he told me, with a big smile on his face,  that he recognised 3 of your songs as coming from   his homelànd; “two were in Zulu and one in Xhosa”

Every visit to Penpont is wonderful, every visit is different, every visit is inspiring and uplifting. Thanks to the continued generosity of Gavin and Vina Hogg, another marvellous away day was enjoyed by around 55 visitors from Swansea.
Most of these visitors currently reside in Swansea, some by choice, but most because they have been sent there to live whilst awaiting for their asylum claim. This can take anything between a few months and 17+ years as a worse case scenario. This is a time of isolation, poverty, extreme stress and sadness for many.
Asylum seekers are not allowed to work, so many are in a long term state of low self esteem and poverty, existing on around £36 per person. The current political situation often creates an unwelcoming atmosphere, although we try our very best in Swansea to provide venues which are welcoming and positive.
Days away such as today are invaluable to the well being of our guests. Today was organised by Margaret Blake, aided by an amazing team who make hosting about 60 visitors look easy! There is no doubt that although it may look effortless, in reality, quality organisation, in addition to generous contributions of time ,effort , skills, money and food, are required. Thanks to all the hard workers behind the scenes in the kitchen!
There is nothing to match the welcome received from HBTSR members – warm, genuine and inclusive. This welcome is extended to familiar visitors and new friends from Somalia, Eritrea, Sierra Leone, DRC, Sudan, Iraq, Iran, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Kurdistan, Syria, China and Kuwait.
Some of the new visitors had to be gently persuaded to come on a ‘trip’. Many are unsure of where they will go, and have to put their trust in the coordinators who assure them of a day they will remember. Once one visit is made, a return is always wanted.
The order of the day includes welcome drinks and fruit, a substantial, wholesome and tasty lunch and before departure a feast of home made cakes with tea and or coffee.
Many kind people have spent time and effort donating these dishes, even though they may not be able to attend on the day. We are aware of this and would like to thank those who have made contributions of any kind.
Gavin and Vina add to the day, providing information on walks around the estate, playing with the children and chatting with anyone and everyone. The Green Man Maze always amazes those who see it for the first time. Some took the opportunity to ride horses and make themselves familiar with the alpacas, others enjoyed a game of football. A fire pit was popular with those wanting to warm up, although we avoided the rain .Smiling children showed off glittering painted faces and there was badge making and other crafts to keep them busy.
In the afternoon, we were treated to the ‘Alive n Kicking’ choir, led by the talented and energetic Tanya Walker. After performing at a concert last night in Brecon, they were all in remarkably good form – there was lots of audience participation and even a guest appearance from O, one of our friends. Grateful thanks to them.
A prayer room was provided as usual, as well as a room full of donated clothes and shoes which were gratefully accepted. I would also like to add thanks to those who donated goods, including toiletries. I believe that they were donated by some of Gavin’s friends, and I would like them to know what a difference they make. A car load of goods will be sorted and distributed next Friday to those who were not able to attend the trip. This also allows us to prioritise those we know to be destitute or particularly needy.
Thanks to all members of HBTSR , Gavin and Vina, and the local community who played any part in this wonderful day. Men, women and children from all over the world enjoyed each others company in relaxed and safe surroundings. A welcome break from the stresses of everyday life. Everyone benefits in some way. Personally, I feel privileged to play some part in the lives of exceptional people, who have had to flee their homes and loved ones. I never fail to be amazed at their dignity and inner strength. I also feel privileged to know and work with, such a fantastic group of like -minded people who work so hard to make a difference. There is no doubt that they succeed in this.
Thank you all for a special and memorable occasion, enjoyed by so many of us from Swansea. We look forward to meeting again in 2020.
With warm wishes for Christmas and the new year,

Maria, Phil , and 53 well-fed, contented and appreciative guests from Swansea

Lily encouraging walkers






From Lily

I want to say thank you for your hospitality and your humanitarian aids.The memory of Brecon will stick in my mind forever .May your God goes with you

From Thanu

Everyone said its a great trip.  Thanks so much for giving us another wonderful day. We thoroughly enjoyed. And weather was amazingly nice

F from China, It’s especially good today.

Ms. A

Good morning was a beautiful trip .This trip is important to meet people
Mrs X
yes,it was wonderful. A beautiful place  with nice people. i am  glad that i was part of group to the trip. much appreciation for the treatment
Ms S  I had a wonderful time yesterday,i just wanted to say…………Thank you for everything you have done…..🙏🙏🙏
Mr A
It was fantastic trip the people are niece and the food I relaly enjoyed. it is important to know where you live .

Ms. F

Hi, yesterday was a memorable day for us. They had exciting plans for us, and the whole day was over.  Tasty food and good reception. They made us feel like a family.  We made many friends.
 We have no family here, and this trip has helped us to feel like they are our family.  We made many friends on this trip.

Stuart getting ready to leave!