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North Wales businesses give refugees a warm Welsh welcome

A group of North Wales volunteers and businesses have come together to ensure a warm Welsh welcome to refugees being resettled in the area.

The ‘Croeso Cymreig – Welsh Welcome’ community project collects food and gifts donated by local firms, to create welcome hampers that are distributed to refugees making a new home in North Wales.

Led by Paola Dyboski-Bryant of Bangor-based Dr Zigs Bubbles, the project aims to demonstrate how welcome refugees are in Wales.

Paola said: “Many resettled refugees arriving in Wales have suffered hugely in their journey to get here, and arrive with nothing. Often they have little to no English or Welsh, they have no transport and they have to navigate a whole new world and system of doing things. Recently families are also, shockingly, experiencing xenophobia.

“We are therefore collecting donations such as food and tickets to tourist attractions so we can distribute welcome hampers to resettled families.

“The project also includes an Instagram campaign to spread messages of positivity and welcome.

“The team has been delighted with the generosity of local businesses. Donations have included everything from handmade blankets to sea salt, vouchers for local attractions and artisan soap.”

On Sunday 7 November, the volunteers came together and the items collected to date were packed in Croeso Cymreig bags and will now be distributed to people who have arrived here recently, many of whom are from Syria and Afghanistan.

The volunteers were joined by TV personality and podcaster Kiri Pritchard-McLean, who has recently returned to Anglesey to live and who was keen to help, having been impressed by what the project team has been able to achieve.

Kiri said: ‘’There’s always been a welcome in the valleys so let’s make sure there’s one in the mountains too. I’ve always thought of Wales as an open and generous place, now we have a chance to prove it. It is our responsibility and privilege to assist as best we can with the incredibly brave refugees who are now making Wales their home and by doing so are enriching the Wales we know and love.’’

Looking ahead to the next steps, Paola Dyboski-Bryant said: “We can’t wait to get these packs out to those who need them and we are so grateful for the support of our amazing local businesses who have been so generous. We’re now already planning our next packs so if any more members of our amazing business community wish to come forward with donations we’d be extremely grateful and can promise they will be put to great use providing the warmest Welsh welcome to those in need.”