On Sunday 25th September Christ College were delighted to welcome forty eight people seeking refuge for a day of activities and respite. Working in conjunction with Hay, Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees, it became a day full of warmth, goodwill and friendship for all pupils, staff and visitors involved. There was a lot of interest and excitement among the school community in advance of the visit and the day itself was full of diverse activities designed to appeal to the range of those seeking refuge who were present. The day also offered the greatest possible opportunity for our willing boarding pupils to get involved and engage with people from all parts of the world - each with a remarkable story to tell.
The visitors were collected from two locations in Swansea and Ystradgynlais. The liaison staff who work so selflessly with these groups were terrific in ensuring the pick-up went smoothly and even the weather was kind as they drove through the stunning scenery to Christ College where a warm welcome awaited. After a formal welcome from the Head our visitors were escorted around the school, including a look at our magnificent chapel where our boarding pupils in Alway House burst into an impromptu hymn gaining rapturous applause from all those present. The tour ended with lunch in the dining room – a fitting time and place for stories to be shared. The wonderful activities laid on for our visitors in the afternoon included baking, sport, art and music and the staff and pupils involved are to be commended on their terrific enthusiasm throughout. The spirit of volunteering is alive and well at Christ College.
The farewell reception in the Neuadd was heartfelt and genuinely moving as a number of families seeking refuge expressed their gratitude for all that they had experienced during the day. The relief at having a break from their daily routines was clear, as was the value that sharing stories, laughing and playing as as they adjust to their new surroundings in Wales, a place so different from their birthplaces.
Head of Christ College, Mrs Emma Taylor, said, “We are just keen to be helpful and offer something enjoyable, fun and different for a group of your choice. Educationally, I am keen that our pupils should have immediate contact with refugees, so that they see them as real people like them rather than a political problem as reported in the press.”
Some of the visitors on the day expressed similar sentiments stating, “It’s been a day when we don't just sit worrying about the future, our case, about how we'll manage but can just forget for a while and enjoy ourselves.” “It gives us a chance to feel human.”
The school community all gained such a lot from this initiative and plans are already afoot for a similar day to be held next year.