When we planned another wonderful day out at Craig Y Nos [CYN] we didn’t actually realise what perfect timing we had chosen and nor did we guess how popular this event would be! Coinciding with Ukrainian Independence Day was entirely fortuitous but gave added meaning for many.
We knew that Swansea asylum Seekers Support [SASS]and the Swansea Women’s Asylum and Refugee Support Group would be keen to have a day out during the summer and hoped that some of the many locally based hosts and Ukrainian Guests might enjoy a visit as well. The happy coincidence of it being Ukrainian Independence Day gave an added reason to want to be together. Brecon Beacons National Park Authority [BBNPA] have always been supportive of our group and increasingly see the importance of encouraging diverse groups to visit and enjoy the beauty of our area. Our last few visits have been aided by BBNPA arranging transport from Swansea which is much appreciated. We also greatly appreciate the great support we receive on every visit from Criw Craggy Volunteers who ensure that all the infra structure is in place for an exciting and enjoyable day out. Big Skill have also been very supportive in various ways over the years but their collaboration with BBNPA gave added impetus and even more activities were on offer for this visit.
And so to the day itself which was predicted to bring heavy rain and even on the day itself the weather forecast was unpromising. However Paul the warden told
us that the heavy front had passed overnight and that all his recent events at CYN had been dry! He was right in his reassurance as the weather stayed fine, not too hot nor too cold and a great day was had by all.
Melrose, as many times before, kindly coordinated the many offers of food and help and ran the ‘kitchen’ in her usual calm and organised manner. It is always a ‘little’ challenging catering on a big scale, especially in what is essentially a field, and with a single electric point that allows for water to be heated to make hot drinks. All water is brought in [Thanks Francesca and Co] and all food is prepared in various homes and put together on the day as a fantastic feast.
Early in the week we heard that the 49 seater coach from Swansea would be full and over 46 Ukrainian people were hoping to attend with more possibly opting to turn up on the day!
The kitchen in action with guests and with Carola topping up the water.
We placed a welcome desk near the car park and greatly value the input of Philip, Mike, Liz, Rowland and others who ensured that people knew where to go and what was going to happen and also arranged some of the many donations into bags that went home with people from Swansea who are living on so little during these times of financial difficulty. Large donations of locally grown produce both from the Brecon Allotments and from the allotments in CYN were gratefully received. Thanks also to the Photographic studio for allowing us to share their shelter.
As people arrived over the course of a few hours and had had drinks, biscuits and a chat, it was almost time for lunch! the Children had a wonderful field shelter with toys and games and lots of soft toys to take away. Badminton and croquet with a table tennis ball[ the croquet balls were mislaid!] and of course football were played throughout the day.
Lunch was a great mixture of filled rolls, salad and fruit and cakes. Five kilos of hummus is an impressive amount and was nearly all eaten with enjoyment much to the delight of Val who must have spent hours making such a vast quantity. And then the afternoon activities started in earnest! The Big Skill’s contributers including Trevor and Rebecca were encouraged to come down to the field by the pavilion which kept everyone together and increased participation. Its Rebecca’s ‘ Favourite day of the year; you couldn’t keep me away!’ and it was lovely to see her catch up with a fellow potter Pauline who was helping in the kitchen.
Francesca kindly did a short walk to the lake which was enjoyed by a number of the guests and it gave me a chance to catch up with Maria who due to circumstances is rather less involved with the weekly SASS drop ins but remains and staunch supporter. it was lovely to see her and Phil again.
The walk provided the opportunity for many selfies and chats. It was lovely to see an animated chat between a Ukrainian lady and an African man both speaking English [and gesture ]as a common language and enjoying the freedom and peace of the park.
And all too soon the bus arrived and it was time to leave taking many happy memories, photos and some additional bags of help.
An Iraqi Kurdish family particularly appreciated the visit as the surroundings were so like home and showed us photos of his area which had a river, steep sided valley and trees and greenery.
Thanks are due to so many people;-
BBNPA- Francesca, Paul, Eleanor, Simon W
Criw Craggy Jackie, Norma, Simon and Ann,
The Big Skill Trevor, Rebecca, Karin, Nigel and others,
Over 30 of our own supporters who attended on the day [ Some travelling over 50 miles to be with us] and others who provided food or gifts to be brought.
Rhiannon who helped to publicise and coordinate the Ukrainian hosts and guests participation.
First Choice coaches who transported the Swansea contingent and had a ticket whilst trying to load guests in Swansea!
And to all our guests for their enthusiasm and participation which made the event so much fun.
We love the respite trips which are uplifting and so good for our well being, let alone for the people who they are meant for! I am no longer organising the trips or writing up the days but hope to attend whenever I am able.
However, I just wanted to thank you very sincerely, on behalf of all our friends in Swansea for organising an amazing day. I am so aware of the effort and hard work that goes into something that runs so well that it looks effortless! It was wonderful to see the happy faces of so many who have such hard lives. What a difference it must make to them to know that people care enough to do this for them. Everything matters – the welcome, the venue, the food, the donations, the attention to detail.
Please pass on this message of thanks to the many who were part of its success.
We have just had our meeting in Crickhowell scout hall, and everyone there was buzzing about yesterday, saying how much they’d enjoyed it. There was also huge appreciation for the work that had gone in to making the event so welcoming and such fun.
I said I would pass on a big thank you to you and your team for organising such a special day. And, though coincidence, it was great timing too!
George of SASS
I hope today was good for you all- the weather smiled on everyone in the end, and feedback from the people who attended was great. Speak soon and no words are enough for how much you do for us here