as seen in the Brecon and Radnor Express
“The government’s recently released consultation ‘A New Plan for Immigration’ ,if approved ,will
deny sanctuary to those fleeing persecution and undermine a long tradition of providing refuge in
the United Kingdom.” This is the view of Hay, Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees
(HBTSR), a non-political and impartial support group which offers compassionate and practical
help to people seeking sanctuary in South Wales. “We call on HM Government to prolong the
consultation to have further detailed discussions with relevant organisations to determine what and
how safe routes to the UK could be identified, thus allowing people to seek sanctuary under the
terms of the Refugee Convention. We feel the plan as it stands should be scrapped. We also warmly
invite all candidates for the Senedd election to contact us and listen to our concerns. Even though
immigration is a non-devolved issue we are proud that Wales has been designated a Nation of
If the proposals in the government’s plan are implemented, HBTSR believes it will become almost
impossible for anyone to be given long term ‘leave to remain’ unless they come in through one of
the government’s circumscribed resettlement programmes such as the Syrian Vulnerable Persons
Resettlement Scheme which accepted 5,000 people a year for 5 years until the end of 2019.
“Non-Governmental organisations and charities alike,” says HBTSR, “are appalled both by the tone
and scope of this Bill, which seeks to demonise ordinary people like ourselves; men, women and
children who have had to take extraordinary measures to seek safety. People fleeing for their lives
have little choice in how they seek safety; those escaping from violence and oppression flee with no
documents, no identification and no belongings. They usually cannot use so-called legal routes.”
The group’s Chair, the Reverend Margaret Blake, said “From Brecon to Llandrindod Wells,
Llangynidr to Sennybridge, countless local people have had their lives enriched by sharing in
‘Welcome Days’ organised by our group for people seeking sanctuary in the UK. Working in liaison
with support groups in Swansea, Newport and Cardiff, (all government designated ‘dispersal
cities’), we invite traumatised men, women and children to our beautiful countryside for a day,
offering much needed respite from the pressures of their daily lives. Transport, hospitality and
activities are all provided through a vast network of supporters and the response is wonderful to see.
As we walk and talk, eat and play together, friendships have been formed and horizons broadened.”
Many of the guests come from countries such as Iran, Iraq, Eritrea and Ethiopia but others are from
around the globe. They all have one thing in common; war or persecution has forced them from
their homelands. We believe that they and others like them should be made welcome and have the
right to a fair and just assessment of their needs.”
This photograph shows a group at a welcome day held in Hay on Wye School in January 2019.
‘Many have experienced the welcome, warmth and hospitality in their darkest days when they
have felt like strangers, isolated and many miles from family and friends in a sometimes hostile
world.’commented a local volunteer.
Margaret continued. “Contrary to what is often claimed, we would like to point out there is no
such thing as an illegal asylum seeker, even if they have passed through other ‘safe’ countries on
their way to Britain. People may want and need to live in the UK rather than other European
countries because of family links, knowing the language or because of a deep-seated belief that
Britain upholds human rights and is a safe place. We should be proud that our country has this
reputation and we should be grateful for the enormous contribution to our society made by people
seeking sanctuary over the past century and more.
Indeed, some of our members have personal reasons to be thankful for the sanctuary offered by
Britain in the past.”
Adil lives in Brecon, and originally came from Malawi (Africa) to seek asylum here in the
UK aged 16. He has lived in South Wales since 1987 and is an active member of
During his life here, he has never forgotten the kindness of the British people, and always
tried to return the kindness in many ways. He graduated in Science, and worked in
Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Discovery. Locally, he played cricket and hockey for
Abergavenny and initiated the very successful Kwik Cricket coaching program in local
schools (see picture). This effort prompted an opportunity to meet with Prince Charles
during his visits to the principality in 1983. His entire family have contributed to their local
areas as teachers, dentists, doctors and in numerous other ways to ensure they were fully
integrated and enriched their local communities in different ways. One of his family
members has been appointed as a Deputy Lieutenant to HM The Queen – a fine example
of how asylum seekers can truly enhance the community …… when given an opportunity.’
Adil’s cousin receiving an honour from the Queen.
Philip Oliver, a resident of Llyswen and a retired specialist Social Worker comments ‘ Ever since I
can remember, I have had tremendous sympathy and understanding for the plight of refugees. I also
understand how many families feel being torn apart by their experiences whether due to wars or
famine or other causes.
My mother, Barbara Leupold came to the UK in 1938 as a 32 year old Jewish refugee from Nazi
Germany. She had led a happy life as an artist in Berlin. She had to leave behind her parents. Her
only brother, Ulrich, also had to flee and went to live in Canada. My grandmother survived the War
in hiding but her sister was murdered in a concentration camp in Poland in 1942.
My mother was welcomed by this country and went on to live a fulfilled life, contributing to the
culture and economy of this country, as did her children and grandchildren.
If it had not been for the empathy and kindness of the British people in welcoming my mother she
would have been murdered as so many were. ‘
left to right: Philip’s grandfather, uncle Uli, grandmother, and mother Barbara ~ Berlin 1930.
HBTSR notes that record numbers of people are being forced to flee. President Biden has
committed to resettle 125,000 refugees a year and the UK has made no commitment at all. We
believe that people in the UK want a system that reflects humanity, decency and common sense.
Instead, the unworkable proposals in the New Plan will force an already struggling asylum system
into collapse, leaving traumatised people stuck in refugee camps on UK soil with nowhere to go.
The Government must drastically alter its plans to build a proud future protecting refugees.
The New Plan for Immigration is currently out for consultation until 5th May and can be found at
https://newplanforimmigration.com/en/ but it would certainly be worth visiting sites such as The
Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants https://www.jcwi.org.uk/explained-priti-patels-