On Sunday 10th July, asylum seekers and refugees living in the Swansea area were made very welcome in and around the Llangors lake area in Powys on a wonderful respite trip facilitated by Hay, Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for refugees (HBTS4R) and their incredibly kind supporters.
This is the ninth respite trip provided by HBTS4R since last December. These trips are very popular indeed and a vital break for those on the fringes of society who are limited in what activities they can do whilst experiencing high levels of anxiety due to waiting prolonged periods of time for Home Office decisions. Reactions and feedback from such trips are always of immense gratitude for being made so welcome in such amazingly beautiful places and the great activities provided.
We offer many thanks to all those that made this such a fantastic day for everyone involved;
- Hay, Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees for devising such programs and their kind ongoing support.
- Ty Mawr Lime for hosting
- Kirsty Willimas Am, Cllr Mel Davies and Ex Mp Roger Williams for showing solidarity
- Brecon Food bank, Morrisons Brecon, Aldi Brecon and COOP Brecon for donations of food and countless individual donations of food and toiletries [mostly anonymous].
- Llangorse Multi Activity Centre for showing the beaver sanctuary
- Llyn Safaddan and Beacons Benefice [for toiletries and cakes]
- Llangorse Youth & Community Centre for hosting the day so ably coordinated by Melrose East.
- Llangorse church in Wales school for messages of welcome.
- The kind volunteers from Swansea bay Asylum Seeker Support Group and Unity in Diversity for coming along and helping out.
Maria (SBASSG) speaks for us all in her feedback on the day.
I am writing on behalf of all of us (asylum seekers, refugees and volunteers) who benefited from your hospitality at Ty Mawr and Llangorse yesterday. We all had a wonderful time. I think it is the people who see our friends on a weekly basis that really notice a difference in their demeanour on a day like this. I don’t think I had ever seen one particular man smile before, his wife and children, one of whom he has never seen, are in his home country. He smiled and laughed yesterday and said to me that he was “feeling ok today”. What a testament to what you are doing. Another man who had only been in Swansea for two weeks and can speak virtually no English, found a fellow ‘countryman’ who was keen to help him, having been in his position before. There was a lot of ‘signposting’ going on, which is invaluable. Your kindness is so appreciated, but it is difficult for our friends to express this. We hear snippets of conversation on the way home about the delicious food, the kind people, the beautiful countryside and the peace. They ALL want to come again, most want to live near Brecon now! There was obviously an enormous amount of work and effort put in to organising and catering for such an event, but all I can say is that it was worth it. Exhausted from fresh air and exercise, full of wholesome food and clutching bags of gifts – 50+ people went home very happy yesterday. Thank you one and all.
Maria & Co
Many thanks from the folks at UiD for the kind donations brought back from our trip 🙂
Click Here to see how you can easily make ‘free’ donations to UiD when shopping at your favourite on-line stores.
It has been an unsettling few weeks with the EU referendum and subsequent chaos and uncertainty as 51.9% of British voters chose to exit the European Union, whose motto interestingly is ‘United in Diversity’. Since then there has been a significant rise in racist outbursts and attacks on non-UK nationals.
It is for this reason we had a whole-group session last week to discuss the referendum and how to stay safe and find support. We were able to inform people of the commitment of local bodies that offer to help report/deal with race hate crimes in our area. Those that offer support include; EYST, Swansea University, University of Wales Trinity St David, Gower College Swansea and Swansea Bay Racial Equality Council. We concluded with information on the upcoming Airshow to make people aware of what’s happening and when. We were also able to inform people of some nice free public events being held in Swansea over the summer.
Thanks to the hard work of David, our very kind volunteer English teacher and treasurer we are now a fully registered charity. This empowers us to apply for funding and support for the work we love to do. We are so happy to be formalised as a charity after our difficult upheaval last March due to Cyrenians Cymru going into administration. It has been a steep learning curve for many of us and there has been much development as a result.
Shortly after receiving news of our charity status we were informed that our joint bid with Swansea Bay Asylum Seeker Support group (SBASSG) for a ‘New Beginnings Fund’ was successful. We greatly look forward to cooperating ‘officially’ with SBASSG who we work closely with in supporting asylum seekers and refugees in the Swansea area.
Finally, we are very happy indeed to receive an award for being an ‘Organisation of Sanctuary’ kindly presented by the wonderful team at Swansea City of Sanctuary at their ‘Meaningful Activities for Asylum Seekers and Refugees’ workshop. We are very proud to stand alongside such organisations as EYST, Swansea Council for Voluntary Service and the African community centre, empowered by our shared passion to support people.
Unity in Diversity is run entirely by volunteers and without their very kind help and determination we simply wouldn’t be able to do what we do. It is with a glad heart that we thank you all for your hard work and dedication, the feedback we get for the service we provide is always of the highest order and it’s all thanks to our amazing team.
Much appreciation to supporting organisations that continually help us in our work. Many thanks to;
- Rosie, Neil and everyone at the United Reformed Church for their kind guidance, help and our wonderful drop-in venue.
- Food for Life Wales for keeping everyone fed and happy with their wonderful food.
- SCVS (Swansea Council for Voluntary Service) for their vital support every step of the way on our journey to where we are now.
- Swansea City of Sanctuary for their support, recognition of our work, promotion of our group and all the information put our way regarding funding opportunities and available activities.
- Nina and the team at CATCH (Cwmtawe Action To Combat Hardship) for all the donations and for regularly popping in to see what people need.
- Ailsa, Sean and everyone at Hay, Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees for being such a wonderful partner organisation and for providing so much support, cash donations, fantastic ICT equipment, food, household items and the amazing respite trips and volunteering opportunities that so many of our friends enjoy.
- Hiraeth Hope for their amazing respite trips and volunteer opportunities.
- The English Language Training Services department of Swansea University for providing qualified volunteer English teachers for the last 6 years.
- Red Café Mumbles for their ongoing support and linked activities.
- Caer Las furniture scheme for providing volunteer opportunities and a sense of purpose for many of our members.
- And to all those who help us in our work who we’ve failed to mention.
Onward and Upward 🙂
Many thanks indeed to the Swansea’s kind Sudanese community for providing such engaging and informative activities at Unity in Diversity.
What a wonderful evening of traditional poetry, music, dance and participatory drama where we all learned of the conflicts in Sudan and difficulties faced as an asylum seeker or refugee in your new home. Many issues were addressed and there were many clear messages of positivity demonstrated articulately and effectively through drama. An incredibly well-planned event with the clear objective of promoting cohesion and personal development within the community. We are very proud to host such a dynamic program, devised and delivered by our community members themselves.
One of the problems we encounter when talking to the people we support is that of transport. People are ‘placed’ in Swansea by the authorities and sometimes this can mean being up to 8 miles from the city centre where college courses are held, where community groups meet and where support is offered. Having very little to live on, paying expensive bus fares is often NOT an option. Being in a new/strange place and having to walk some distance in bad weather can compound already existing problems for people and hinder their chances of integrating in society. Alongside this people are often required to ‘sign in’ regularly at a location that is over 4 miles from the centre of Swansea.
This is where the RE-Cycle project comes in.
Over the last few years re-cycle has put around 3000 bikes back on the road in Swansea, all bikes were donated by people who would rather see their bike used rather than melted down for scrap. The not-for-profit social enterprise takes in donated bikes, selling 80% at low cost and the rest go to volunteers in exchange for their time.
Many of our friends at the Unity in Diversity group have benefited from being volunteers with the wonderful Ian at Re-Cycle. The ability to get around is vital for those on low-income and the sense of self-purpose is very important for those who are effectively in limbo most of the time due to uncertainties in their status and the lengthy procedures involved.
Millions of bicycles are discarded in the UK every year. Our whole society needs to address the waste of resources around us. Alongside this, cycling is a great from of exercise, especially with some of the stunning cycle paths we have here in the area. Re-Cyle addresses many different things in the way they work and we will always be very grateful for the way our friends are empowered, mobilised and valued in their contribution.
If you want to:
- Donate a bicycle
- Buy a good quality and affordable bicycle
- Volunteer your time and learn skills
- Refer someone to the scheme.
Go to their website -> https://recyclesouthwales.wordpress.com/
FINDING RE-CYCLE SWANSEA
Just off Bryn-y-Mor Road, in a courtyard behind the Mill Pub on Catherine Street, SA1 4NE.
The Unity in Diversity group has been helping people for over 5 years now. We are very happy with successes in helping people, that said this would not be possible at all without the kind help of organisations like the WEA.
The WEA has helped many many of our friends learn English (ESOL) as well as other subjects including ICT. Participating and receiving accreditation benefits the people we support in numerous ways, not only in speaking English etc.
Being able to communicate in the place where you live is a clear priority that leads to access to other services and communities. Other important outcomes are; having a sense of purpose, doing something constructive rather than being isolated and worrying about things, being able to populate a CV and having the ability to show the authorities that the individual is making relevant steps in their own development.
The courses provided are especially helpful as ESOL provision at local colleges is often booked up very quickly and enrolments are restricted to the academic year. The WEA offers classes all year round which helps us to get people in to active learning as soon as possible.
If you wish to study, or you know someone who would benefit from learning with the WEA you can visit their website here -> http://www.weacymru.org.uk/
For those who wish to study ESOL amongst other courses, visit the Swansea Bay Racial Equality council on the 3rd Floor in Grove House, Grove Place, Swansea, West Glamorgan SA1 5DF. Telephone: 01792 457035. Website: http://www.sbrec.org.uk/
BREAKING NEWS!!! UiD FC has been kindly invited to play a Swansea University staff team at warm-ups for the University Varsity event. The match will be at 5pm on Monday 30th March at the football grounds next to the Wales national pool Swansea. Postcode – SA2 8EE (see map below). This is very exciting for us as it presents an opportunity to get the team properly started, to give the players the experience of playing as part of a team and to understand how we function effectively together. An excellent chance to be seen and to share the fun, healthy and inclusive nature of our team. We remind you that everyone is welcome to join us at training sessions held at Hafod park on Sundays 2pm to 4pm. If you have an interest in friendships across diverse cultures and developing your game please join us. Full info on UiD training sessions here: Unity in Diversity Football Training – Flyer-Map-Info Monday’s match to be played here:
A very encouraging start to our recently revived football activities with 19 people playing. With our kind volunteers Martin (the coach) and Christelle, plus Lazlo and myself we were 25 happy souls enjoying a healthy afternoon’s activities.
UiD FC used to meet at the Recreation ground on Mumbles road but due to occasional events such as the Netherlands’ National Circus we rethought the location and decided to use the wonderful public provision of Hafod Park (SA5 9LE). This is much closer to many people’s homes and isn’t as busy as the Rec.
We are interested in how successfully everybody found the park. This ties in with our development of a digital directory that puts locations and details of help available in the hands of not only practitioners supporting this group but actually in to the hands of the people themselves. One gentleman showed me his smartphone and demonstrated how the Google map app had led him straight to the park – with a route from where he was! A task for our volunteers at the UiD group will be to collect info on what devices people use, to identify and recognise how well this is done as well as giving us the opportunity to plan workshops around improving skills needed.
We are hoping that as the weekly activity (Sundays 2pm to 4pm) develops we can extend welcome to families who can make use of the many different things available at the park. As the weather improves we can expect a table, chairs, juice etc to appear.
A word from our coach:
We are very pleased to see such an enthusiastic turnout. We are hoping that the improving weather allows us to dedicate more time to improve our technical ability and hone our clearly existing skills. I am confident that the people coming can give the needed commitment for us to grow in to a functional team – look out Chelsea! We’re coming to get you.
A great storytelling session this evening with Carl from ‘World of Connection‘. Preparation on Tuesday really paid off with lots of participation. Cautionary tales seemed to be the theme which was clearly familiar to all. A great team effort in recalling the stories step by step, clear evidence of a good understanding of the stories. Well done to the people that told their own stories.
We all know why dogs bark at buses now thanks to an amusing traditional Eritrean story.