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 🙂
Imagine you are new to Swansea, you would like to learn more about your new community but you are forbidden from taking employment. These are circumstances which people seeking sanctuary commonly face.
Join us on Tuesday July 5th from 13:30-16:30 at Swansea YMCA to gain a clearer understanding of what is meant by ‘meaningful activity’ with specific reference to people seeking sanctuary as well as an opportunity to promote your organisation’s services. There will be presentations from Displaced People in Action / Swansea City of Sanctuary, Swansea Council for Voluntary Service, Down to Earth Project and Hay Brecon & Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees.
Following these presentations there will be an opportunity for organisations to network and promote their activities to people seeking sanctuary.
For those seeking sanctuary, hear presentations from some of the excellent activities and services which exist in Swansea and elsewhere in Wales and make use of the opportunity to find out how you can access these activities.
Tickets are free but need to be booked online.
Posted on behalf of Swansea University’s ELTS department
Dear Swansea Community Members
ELTS offers free English Language Classes to any non-native speaker of English in the local area at Pre-intermediate level or above via our Teacher Training programme. There does not need to be any connection to the University.
The basic details are below:
Free English Language Classes
Monday 4th July to Friday 29th July 2016
Monday to Friday 10:00 a.m. – 12:00
Classes at three levels: pre-intermediate, intermediate, and upper-intermediate.
We will hold drop-in registration sessions for new students as follows:
Thursday 30th June and Friday 1st July
Margam Building 3rd Floor 9-3pm
Students with additional queries should contact:
While we try to accommodate all who wish to attend, pre-registered students will have priority if numbers reach our class limits.
Please encourage any non-native speaker of English who you feel could benefit from classes to attend, and distribute this information to any suitable person inside or outside the university. The classes are a good mix of international students, and they will be made very welcome.
I regret that we are not able to reimburse travel expenses.
ELTS Swansea University
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.
Our training sessions are well established now with lots of people enjoying getting together on Sundays AND Wednesdays now. Following our match with Swansea university staff we are focussed on developing our game and having regular healthy fun as a team.
Stay tuned for news of playing other teams soon.
*all photos are shared with express permission of those pictured.
The wonderful storytelling sessions continue at Unity in Diversity, facilitated by Carl Gough. Our folk love new vocabulary and the same goes for stories, which are strong traditions in many people’s country of origin (as well as our own). Lessons are provided on the subject matter in order for everyone to participate effectively and enjoyably.
Please see Carl in action telling the amazing “Ostara and the White Hare” story.
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/