On Sunday 19th March a coach filled with people seeking sanctuary in Swansea came to Llangors to meet with supporters of Hay, Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees [HBTSR] and also with Ukrainian people who are now living in South Powys. As always a warm welcome awaited everyone who came to the Community centre and whilst at times things were a little cramped and the queue for lunch seemed endless , nevertheless everyone ate, drank and was very happy.
It was good to see so many friends from Swansea and the Ukrainian community after a few months winter pause . The local Ukrainian people are becoming settled and Maryna and her sons Mark and Sam ran the crafts activities for all participants. They supervised painting, bracelets and bookmarks. We had to find extra tables and chairs such was demand to join in.
Some of the beautiful works of art produced including soem traditional Ukrainian patterns.
The walks to the lake were much enjoyed despite enormous puddles and the need to wade through water to see the interpretation centre.As before, all visitors just enjoyed watching ducks and swans and breathing in the fresh air and none seemed to feel the cold or worry about getting wet. Some brave people even paddled… we were grateful for the donated towels back at the hall. No one was able to pull the sword from the stone so no princes amongst the crowd but lots of amazingly resilient people. The joy was almost palpable and several remarked upon how free they felt.
Some ladies said that the scenery reminded them of home which given that one was from Algeria and the other from Syria seemed somewhat strange but possibly the feeling of comfort, freedom and fun reminded them of happier times before they’d grown and had to flee. Both had made the difficult journey to try to find a better, freer life for their daughters and so that they would not grow up to be second class citizens with multiple restrictions upon their liberty.
Walking back with some younger unaccompanied people I was reminded of the difficult lives they lead as asylum seekers. They don’t get out much and some are waiting for school places. One remarked upon how a day like this would be a good memory to hold onto during the hard days. Several of these youngsters spoke more than 5 languages fluently and this country will be so well off if we are able to harness their skills to help our population.
A few journeys to Llangors Church to see baby and children’s clothes with mums were another chance to find out about life in an asylum house. one mum hasnt been able tofind a school yet for her young children but has been promised one in September. She asks how one is supposed to keep children entertained with no money. ‘ They want ice creams or sweets and I can’t afford them or we have to go without other food. ‘ Sadly what most wanted were shoes but there were none in the church. I suggested that they see Maria to ask for help from the Shoe fund that we donate to.
The highlight of the day was the Taiko Mynydd Du who arrived and shared lunch with us and then when we were able to move a few tables gave us a dramatic and exciting performance that was really appreciated by all. After a few demonstrations then it was time for everyone to join in and have a go. The patience and skill in teaching was good to see.
Then it was time for tea and cake and distribution of the beautiful Paper flowers and cards made in Llangors School for mothers day. Several children wanted cards too! the flowers were so appreciated. ‘How lovely that a child went to this trouble for us’
Then to tidy up. Many hands make light work and the hall was back to normal well before 6. Another welcome day, another day of memories to sustain us all. The 69th Day that we have run in many places and with so many different people joining in but with the common theme of hospitality and welcome. The day reminded me of why we set up these days in the first place ‘to give people some hospitality and to show them that they matter.’ And to enjoy ourselves too.
Thanks to Melrose for her hard work in coordinatinng all the many offers of help, To Bernie, Penny and Alison who were stalwarts in the kitchen. To the many people who helped to serve food and to tidy up and help with washing u, I’m not going to risk mentioning names as i will miss out a few. You know who you are and thanks so much for being there and helping.
Thanks to Jim and Wally for leading the walks.
To the welcoming team at the door who made sure everyone knew what was planned.
To Maryna, Mark, Sam and Vadym [ and baby Emmanuella] for providing such wonderful activities.
To the Black Mountain Taiko Drummers[ Taiko Mynydd Du ] for amazing entertainment and for letting people have a go for themselves.
To Claire and Niki for face-painting so very beautifully
Thanks to Treberfydd for the donation of towels and slippers – all much appreciated.
Thanks to Llangorse Church in Wales School students for the beautiful paper flowers and cards made for Mother’s day
to Emily for bringing the Friendship quilt that many remembered making patches for.
Val’s thoughts about the day
Last Sunday the Hay, Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees (HBTSR) organised a very successful welcome day for refugees at Llangorse Community Centre, bringing together over a hundred people, including many families with babies and young children who are seeking sanctuary from war, persecution or famine and who are now based in Wales. Ukrainian refugees who live scattered about the local area came to the event and enjoyed meeting up with each other and also getting to know some of the group of around sixty other refugees who came up in a coach from Swansea, people from as far afield as Venezuela and Syria, Honduras, Afghanistan and Sudan. HBTSR’s welcome days are designed to be just that: to make everyone feel welcome, respected and cared for, and to try and provide them with something special, a day that can help to distract them, however briefly, from the very constrained circumstances in which many of them live and the difficulties they have to face in dealing with the UK immigration system. Last Sunday the weather was good so the children could play outside and there were guided walks down to Llangorse lake to enjoy the lovely views. In the hall there were volunteers encouraging people to experiment with making jewellery and art, while another volunteer painted children’s faces with brightly coloured designs. As a very good example of cooperation between the different groups, a large patchwork quilt was on display, many of the beautifully embroidered squares contributed by refugees and the whole coordinated by a local volunteer. There was also live entertainment provided by the Black Mountains taiko drumming group who gave a rousing performance and who then invited others to come and have a go themselves. The Llangorse-based team of volunteers coordinated a delicious lunch for everyone as well as an endless supply of cakes, biscuits, fruit and soft drinks. The HBTSR team all enjoyed the day too: it’s always so good to get to talk to some of these people and to realise that despite the government’s negative rhetoric they are all ordinary human beings like us and that they are seeking sanctuary because of circumstances entirely beyond their control. And, as evidence of why these welcome days are worth the effort, HBTSR has received numerous messages of thanks from the visitors saying how very much they appreciated this small but special gesture.
Thanks from Attendees.
Thanks Thanu we really enjoyed, my kids and all family had fun. God bless you and I hope to join next trip thanks for all