MORE THAN 80 refugees and asylum seekers were welcomed to Llandrindod Wells recently for a Sanctuary Day organised by Hay, Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees (HBTSR).
Many of the visitors have found new homes thanks to the Syrian Resettlement Programme, allowing them to escape the horrors and dangers of living in active war-zones.
Ysgol Trefonnen Church in Wales School welcomed 53 people seeking asylum or refuge in Swansea, and 32 people settled in Newtown.
The pupils made a banner to welcome the visitors.
They were joined by many teachers, parents, governors, the Friends of Ysgol Trefonnen, members of the Knighton Refugee Support group, the Llandrindod Community Café, the Samaritans, St John Ambulance, community police officers and Unity in Diversity.
HBTSR’s Ailsa Dunn said: “Several planning meetings were held and enthusiasm developed from there. Enormous amounts of clothing, toiletries, toys and food were donated by local people and businesses and were sorted by Samaritan shop volunteers.
“The Herb Garden agreed to do the catering and prepared a feast of vegetable chilli, rice, potatoes and pasta bake with salad and bread.
“There were also sandwiches and cakes for afternoon tea, provided by local people.
“It always amazes me how many people can be fed on these special days and it was a great to use the school kitchen. The presence of the school cook meant we were able to offer hot food to around 200 people.”
Many businesses donated goods to support the event.
Vans Good Food Shop donated vegetables, the Candy Bar who donated sweets, Tesco donated fruit, Aldi donated food and Dudley Taylor Pharmacies donated toiletries.
The day was also supported by KDM local newsagents, stationers and games store, the Swansea Bay Asylum Seekers group and the Newtown Community Connection.
Holy Trinity Messy Church provided crafts and activities while Powys Dance got people on their feet with several dance routines.
Radnor Play donated play equipment which meant visitors could try juggling, quoits, or even massive dominoes.
The children had been inspired to think about hosting a day by their teachers, especially headteacher Jessica Stuart-Lyon and Community Manager Ryan Coleman, along with governors Jo Harris and Dr Simone Lowthe-Thomas.
Stuart-Lyon said she was happy to have the opportunity to host such a day.
A weeping beech tree was planted to commemorate the day.
A resettled resident said: “The tree will grow and provide sanctuary as you have done for us today.”
Ailsa added: “This comment and one from a mother who said ‘they’re just like our kids really aren’t they’ tells us that we had achieved what we wanted. To do all this in a primary school in Powys which was echoing with shouts and laughter, chatter and tremendous warmth felt truly miraculous. We’d like to thank everyone involved.”
Find out more about HBTSR at hbtsr.org.uk/ or find them on Facebook.
See full story in the County Times