The second charity helped by Grwp to form, is a refugee organisation, LSA - Life Seekers Aid. This started life as the Camp Residents of Penally (CROP), the asylum seekers who found themselves in the Pembrokeshire army barracks during covid. Grwp helped them build resilience by forming their own organisation. From there they organised classes in art, English, music, provided wellbeing, access to doctors and solicitors and liaised with outside organisation to provide trips and volunteering in the community.
One of the classes organised by CROP inside Penally camp. The artwork is currently on exhibition at the Torch Theatre.
They also campaigned to close the camp, and working with reporters, doctors, activists, politicians and the police in Wales, they succeeded. The whole intense episode lasted from September 2020 to March 2021. It is true to say this changed many peoples lives. The Life Seekers met the worst of conditions and the best of friends in the same place. When they speak of the impact of these unexpected friendships it brings tears to their and their listeners' eyes. The community in Wales rallied to help. While there were organised hostile protests outside the camp, these petered out. The supporters who were in their thousands, did not waver - Love being stronger than hate. There were a number of groups including the Quakers, Helen Bamber foundation, County of Sanctuary, a group to distribute clothing - Heart and our own Grwp Resilience and Croeso Teifi, a charity in Cardigan, affiliated to Grwp.
Finally this month LSA has become its own charity. If not unique it is exceptional. Their goals are to help others in their position and to help the communities in the UK.
Since leaving Penally LSA run weekly distributions of clothing etc for fellow asylum seekers. Some volunteer in community veg and leisure gardens in Cardiff, others help third sector groups in Wales with admin. I spoke to one guy helping in a lab to develop solar cells from titanium. Despite their skills they can only volunteer and not work. I know two qualified HGV drivers and a surgeon, not allowed to use their desperately needed skills.
LSA is an affiliate of Grwp Resilience with overlap, a Life Seeker is helping a number of community organisations in Pembs with admin and a Grwp director is a trustee for LSA.
LSA speaker at wellbeing weekend in Haverfordwest, Pembs.