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Brecon High School welcomes for Refugee Week and the Great Get Together.

This was our biggest Welcome event to date:, expertly coordinated by Meriel Gillespie and  Rowland Jepson, It involved many of the High School pupils and their families, the local Nepalese community , The Army, Powys Sports development team, SPYM Choir,

many of the local Ukrainian families and HBTSR.  Over 180 local people signed in and were there to welcome the coach from Swansea bringing a group of people seeking sanctuary. There was music, sports of many kinds, many crafts and lots of food. The  making of flower headdresses was  particularly admired by the Ukrainians as the day was their Trinity Sunday when they would often make things with flowers.

HBTSR thanks everyone who took part in makking Sunday 23rd June such a memorable day.

The account below is by Olivia Thompson-Richards a sixth former at Brecon High School

Brecon High School opens arms to refugees: all about the Refugee Welcome Day 

By Olivia Thompson-Richards

Image by Louis Rooza: Refugees arriving at Brecon High School.

On Sunday 23rd June, in the heart of Bannau Brycheiniog, Brecon High School opened its doors for their Refugee Welcome Day, inviting more than two hundred attendees to support and enjoy the day. Hay, Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees and volunteers have been recognised for their “kindness and generosity” as the school welcomes members of the local community, as well as staff and pupils, to support with the organisation of the day. 

The preparation for the day began early morning. A variety of activities run by volunteers, staff and pupils were organised. From crafts to team-building activities, pottery to football, the day was full of excitement. People were enjoying trying new activities. A comment from an attendee stated that “I tried to make a pot out of clay. It was my first time. It was very interesting, and I was able to do such an unusual thing.” The activities on offer were met with gratitude and enthusiasm from attendees of all ages. A children’s choir, part of SPYM, sang in the main hall as guests arrived, bringing joy to the audience. 




Image by Louis Rooza: A selection of the pottery made by attendees.

Last year, the UK government received 84,425 applicants seeking asylum. This same year, 33% of these applications were initially refused (Commons Library, May 2024). A volunteer at Hay, Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees, Adil Gatrad, shared his story. Adil arrived in the UK from Malawi, alone, at the age of 16. He described the unfamiliarity he felt when he arrived and how “the world feels alien” as a refugee. The approval of the UK government’s plan to deport people seeking asylum to Rwanda has been described as “inflicting cruelty” onto people seeking asylum by Human Rights Watch.  

The Hay, Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees is a local refugee support group. They believe that people fleeing war and persecution should be able to feel safe and welcome in the UK regardless of how they arrive here. The symbol used by the Together with Refugees coalition is an orange heart, which represents hope and the colour of life jackets. These orange hearts were proudly displayed at the entrance of Brecon High School. 

Image by Louis Rooza: Brecon High School’s entrance for the Refugee Welcome Day.

A variety of outdoor activities were organised, including table tennis, archery, football and basketball. We welcomed help from Army trainers and Sports Development teams to organise a variety of activities. One attendee described the table tennis as “really fun” and also offered thanks to those who supported the organisation of the event; they feel grateful for people who “open their hearts” to them. 

Image by Louis Rooza: Table tennis and team building activities.

We were grateful for the support of volunteers and pupils who organised a wonderful buffet of food to cater the event. This buffet consisted of foods such as Nepalese curry, pasta bake, a variety of salads, fruits, cakes and breads. An attendee described the food as “delicious” and enjoyed tasting food from our local culture such as homemade Welsh cakes which were freshly baked that day by volunteers.  

Images by Louis Rooza: The buffet on offer during the day. and fresh Welsh cakes


We welcomed a wide diversity of people to Brecon High School. The day was filled with wonderful conversation; we learned that we welcomed refugees from more than 20 countries. For example, one of the attendees was a young girl arrived in the UK two years ago from Algeria at only 8 years old. She has been learning English during her time here. She enjoyed the indoor arts and crafts activities.  

Support from Meriel Gillespie, the EAL Coordinator for Brecon High School, made the day possible. In recent years at Brecon High School, we have gained many Ukrainian students who have been forced to flee from war and violence. These students, all of whom had to adapt to an unfamiliar environment, are recognised for their increased confidence within the school. A few of these students attended the Refugee Welcome Day, some alone, and some alongside their families. Olena, a parent of a Ukrainian student, said that “The thoughtfulness put into every detail did not go unnoticed.” She felt that “It was inspiring to see the community come together in such a compassionate and supportive manner.”   

We welcomed donations of clothes, books and other items. 

Image by Louis Rooza: The donations given by the local community.



The day, full of activities, ended with lively music and dancing. The community gathered together to cheer and dance; it was a perfect way to end the day. 

Image by Louis Rooza: One last dance!

The crafting of gift bags was greatly appreciated by our guests. An attendee described the volunteers as “kind-hearted” for the running of the day. The entire day was a success, and a step forward towards Brecon High School’s recognition as a School of Sanctuary. Meriel Gillespie expressed gratitude to the volunteers and guests. She anticipates the organisation of another Refugee Welcome Day in the future.  

Image by Louis Rooza: Gift bags for guests.

The volunteers at Hay, Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees organise many activities to promote support for asylum seekers and refugees to emphasise that they are safe and welcome here. For more information about the organisation, visit their website: 

Image by Louis Rooza: Rowland from HBTSR and Gustavo, a refugee from Venezuela.




Thank you very much to the refugee protection team and all the staff of the school. They are very enthusiastic and attentive. They have a variety of entertainment activities such as archery, football, table tennis, handicraft making, etc. The best is all kinds of delicious food, all of which are very favourite foods and all kinds of fruits are really rich. My family is having a good time. Such activities are really meaningful to us. We can learn more about and include the local cultural life. Finally, I wish Swansea, England and Wales a more prosperous one! C X, thank you!

It was such an amazing day.  I tried to make a pot out of clay. It was my first time.  It was very interesting and I was able to do such an unusual thing.  We also had a lot of outdoor activities.  For example, we played table tennis. It’s really fun. The people who met us were very welcoming and the children prepared a small concert.  It is so sweet.  We enjoyed tasty food and good conversation.  Thanks a lot to everyone who organized this wonderful day for us and to the people who support us refugees and open their hearts to us! 🙏
It was a wonderful day.Thank you for giving us this opportunity.Many thanks to Brecon refugee group and the school for the  good organisation , the generosity and the kindness
It was a beautiful day, the trip was comfortable, we were received wonderfully, the service was excellent, and we felt at home, thanks to them
It was a wonderful trip, we really enjoyed. Music team was amusing and hope there will be lengthy concerts in the future. 🙏🇬🇧❤️
Hi to day every thing was great and had a great time. I thank all the members of the group
Thank you very much for such type of trip. It was an awesome experience; a very beautiful place with kind hearted people.
Thank you
Oh yes my daughters and me we enjoyed it a lot of thank you so much


Meriel with headdress

Hello Meriel,
I hope this letter finds you well. I am writing to extend my heartfelt thanks to you and all members of Brecon High School for the invitation to participate in Refugee Day.
The organization and execution of the event were exceptional. The thoughtfulness put into every detail did not go unnoticed. The activities, workshops, and support services provided were incredibly valuable. It was inspiring to see the community come together in such a compassionate and supportive manner.Thank you once again for your hard work, dedication, and generosity. Your commitment to supporting refugees and helping them feel welcomed and valued is truly commendable. Please extend my gratitude to all the volunteers and staff who contributed to making the day a success.
Warm regards,