Picnic in the park for HBTSR’s latest away day

Criw Craggy – the Friends of Craig Y Nos – and Arts in the Tawe Valley were among those who helped to welcome refugees to Ystradgynlais for a picnic at the weekend.

The away day, organised by Hay, Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees (HBTSR), was held in the grounds of the  Craig Y Nos country park, and hosted refugee visitors from Swansea and Syrian families who have settled in Ystradgynlais.

Ailsa Dunn, HBTSR Secretary said: “Criw Craggy told us just to let them know what they could do to help, and Arts in the Tawe Valley said they’d love to be involved. True to their word they were with us throughout the day and helped to make the day so welcoming and such fun for everyone.

“We were saying our prayers for fine weather and having a retired priest as chair of the group obviously helped, as we had very little rain on the day, despite the forecast.”

An army of volunteers helped to make the day a success, with supporters arriving from 9am to set up a marquee loaned by the park and to set up a kitchen in the old pavilion. From this countless cups of coffee and tea were served and freshly made flatbreads and cakes.

There were large donations of food for the picnic – including 5kg each of hummus and falafel from Hay market stallholder Bill Gannon.

After lunch, the visitors went on walks around the grounds and played badminton, quoits, croquet and football. There was also painting, colouring in, clay sculpture and a mural.

Maria of Swansea Bay Asylum Seekers Support Group said: “We’d like to thank the wonderful people at HBTSR  for yet another amazing day filled with fabulous activities, chat, warmth , friendship, support and delicious food.

“Once again, we are aware that none of this happens without an enormous amount of planning and organisation together with the generosity of the many who are ‘silent’ contributors.

“There was a great mix of familiar and new faces, all of whom benefited from the fresh air, beautiful countryside, lovingly made food and perhaps most importantly, from the warm welcome and offer of friendship.

“The word is going around Swansea that people who have previously been isolated have heard of ‘the trips’ and this prompts them to come along to the drop-ins too. All in all, it promotes better communication of the support we can offer to this group of people who are all far from home, and tell us so often of how stressed and lonely and isolated they feel.

“As ever, these days also give us Swansea volunteers respite. In addition to enjoying everything our friends do, it also gives us an opportunity to network and spend some ‘quality’ time with people that we often do not have time to sit and chat with. As well as developing friendships, this also allows us to learn more about their circumstances and needs – this can then sometimes be followed up with specific support.”

HBTSR are grateful to  Craig Y Nos and Brecon Beacons national park, Criw Craggy, Arts in the Tawe Valley and the many people who turned up to ensure this was another day to remember. The next event will be participation in Hay festival and other events are being planned for July.

Visit www.hbtsr.org.uk or email hbts4refugees@gmail.com for more details.