Here is the report on recent activity and with a few questions and thoughts
1 M is still living in Brecon and supported by HBTSR and Sharetawe. Q Are we still happy to pay £20 a week towards his daily needs, £10 phone top up a month and a meal costing about £10 once a week as a treat? In addition we refer to the foodbank [ many thanks to them for ongoing support] about once a month and various supporters make food donations.
2 Bus passes Its that time of year again and a number of people are starting at college and requesting bus passes. As before we will accept referrals via a support group and according to our criteria of ' be on a full time course, living more than a mile from college And have mobility issues or personal circumstances [ eg childcare] that would make walking or cycling unrealistic.
We were kindly given 2 grants amounting to £2000 from a Family Trust - we'd asked for more to help cover phone top ups but then were given the Community foundation Wales grant. Q Are we happy to spend £2100 which will buy 7 bus passes?
Good News is that Swansea Asylum Seekers Support Group [SASS] have agreed to help finance some passes as well and will use the same criteria.
There may be a repayment due from the college- Q if we have a repayment can we put it towards other passes?
3 Referrals We have always taken our referrals from other support groups or volunteers rather than individuals as the local groups can weigh up the requests against others, can verify the need and can help with the provision. Our policies don't entirely reflect this position- I've added to the policy webpage
All requests for financial help should come to us through a support group for people seeking asylum rather than directly from the individual seeking support as the support group can help us to assess priority and will need to assist with the provision.
Q Do we agree this wording? If so this can be added to the policies when they are reviewed.
4 Swansea Women's Asylum and Refugee group . Last year we made a grant to this group to help them to assist with women finding work or independence. Jeni Williams who is one of the founders sent me a detailed report of progress with the “Opening Doors “ project that is being done with with Women 4 Resources. This is part of their long-term plan to give women some useful qualifications. They now have a list of different courses which are free, not leading to any qualification but just short courses to get used to working online. After people have done those then they’ll have an idea of how they will manage and then there are a range of different courses which are accredited that can be applied for. I can send further details to anyone who wants to know more. [ there's quite a big spreadsheet].
5 immediate support for someone subject to possible domestic abuse. We were asked to help with funding for a person who had been left without money after an incident of abuse. The immediate and ongoing support and help was coordinated by Jeni Williams and we were able to give £100 within 12 hours of request [ approved by hardship group] this included a donation of £50 from a supporter. There was resolution but our support helped to make the situation more tolerable.
6 Covid Chronicles and Sisters not Strangers.
Covid Chronicles with Open University support is a literary and artistic response by marginalised people to Covid 19 again led by Swansea Womens group. Do look at lt, please.
SistersNotStrangers is a movement led by refugee and asylum-seeking women to end destitution and build a more equal and caring society. Their report makes useful recommendations and The Swansea group have been very involved.
7 Fay Jones- A number of members have shared the responses sent by Fay Jones to their emails about the small boats crossing the channel. These are all different responses as befits the differing emails but can be summarised as She expresses sorrow for the loss of life, comments upon the parliamentary response aimed at preventing the crossings and catching the people smugglers, mentions the government record on support for people seeking asylum and agrees to relay views to her ministerial colleagues and will continue to monitor the situation closely.
To date we have not had a response to the email sent on behalf of the group which can be seen here. Sadly we've not had responses to many recent HBTSR emails...
8 selling donations One of our supporters has offered to try to sell some of the clothing donations we've been given as we cannot send these on at present. We have the insurance, a potential stall and things to sell. The money would come to HBTSR. Q Do we agree with doing this?
9 Suggestions for a virtual welcome day made by Mike
'Musing on the absence of welcome days and what that means for our refugee friends and also for our supporters, I started to wonder about the possibility of doing a virtual welcome day or days, and other kinds of on-line engagement.
The obvious limitation is to those refugees who have a computer, tablet or phone with reasonable internet access. Obviously that's a severe limitation, but perhaps it would be better than nothing? Maybe the drop-ins could facilitate computer access in a particular place (socially distanced) or even loan of devices to those who lack them?
What would a remote (via Zoom) welcome day look like?
Well, it would be more like a conference, with different sessions one after another. People would book in advance and be sent the link(s) for their session(s). Zoom works well. I've got a subscription that allows up to 100 participants and no time limits. Zoom works ok on smart phones also.
Thinking back to the Llangynidr welcome days, here are some of the things we could do:
* General greeting and welcome from group members
* The school choir singing songs
* Guided video walk around the village
* Video walk along the canal and river
* Talk about local wildlife
* Interviews with interesting/interested local people
* Cookery demonstrations
* Local singers/musical groups
* Demonstrations of art and craft skills
Apart from the obvious absence of physical presence and contact, the big difference is that in some ways it could work to increase participation by the refugees, giving them an easier means of talking about their own lives, skills, experiences if they choose to do so.
Of course it need not be one village (such as Llangynidr)... it could be done by the group as a whole
We could also use it for some kind of classes, e.g. English (with Mac?) or cooking or other skills
We could provide or channel briefings on relevant topics (e.g. dealing with the Home Office, Immigration tribunals, etc.)
We could record sessions and set up a YouTube channel with short videos on different topics
HBTSR members with more experience of social media could work out how to do some of all this on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.
Q what do we think about feasibility ?
10 Update of activities over the last 6 months on website here
11 We had an email today about a 'possible rural group conversation with City of Sanctuary on 1st October'. The initial interest seems to be from Hereford , Northumberland and Shropshire. Q Do we want to join in with this? Does someone have time to do this?
Thanks if you've managed to read all of this. Details of meeting below
All good wishes
Topic: Hay Brecon & Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees
If you've already done a Zoom meeting, then the next paragraph is superfluous.
If webinars and videocalls on Zoom are a new thing for you, here are some useful tips, including How to set up Zoom and dial in from a computer or a phone, and Functions of Zoom: where to find what: HERE
or our previous guide is here.