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March 2022 Newsletter

Welcome to EYST’s March newsletter! A momentous newsletter as it is the last to be introduced by me for a while! As you may know, I will very shortly be moving on to the role of Children’s Commissioner for Wales, an opportunity I am very excited about, but obviously very sad to leave EYST, which is truly a family. Never have I been more convinced what a special place EYST is, and how valuable the work carried out by the whole team is, and I am very happy to be leaving it in the excellent hands of Helal Uddin and Lloyd Williams who will be Co-Directing the organisation and keeping the EYST boat sailing and thriving for the next chapter of EYST... but the real work is below, so do read on!

Hwyl am y tro, bye for now 😊

Rocio Cifuentes
EYST is a charity for the people, supported by the people. To continue the important work we do, every little donation helps.

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More successes on The Sanctuary Team!
The Sanctuary Team have had a busy month! The asylum and refugee support service are still delivering around 60-80 sessions a week. Thank you to the Helpline for the smooth process and booking in appointments for us. Share Tawe has been out and about, filming with external agencies to promote a Wales-wide approach to hosting as well as attending the Shouts and Whispers event! We are also in the process of securing another flat to accommodate people who are destitute because of their asylum claim.
Awards are being developed for volunteers to celebrate their achievements in lock down. The brilliant Homework Club is going well, and we are proud of its success. Sports Diversity Cymru is keeping people active and happy with a retained number of different people attending, as well as the thriving drop in. Half term was mega, and everyone had so much fun - well done to our Project Officer for all his hard work keeping Swansea active. The Transport Project has been a rollercoaster and our Officer has issued hundreds of tickets to people in need - a massive well done. 
Well done to Carlos and Rudina for attending Hafod Primary School to raise awareness prior to the commencement of their 'Sanctuary Week'. We were impressed by their questions and enjoyed sharing. We spoke about what sanctuary meant and that there are already many people seeking asylum in Swansea. Kindness is a superpower and we must use it! For more info please contact
BME CYP Team celebrates tremendous year!
The BME CYP Project have been busy delivering Practitioners Learning Seminars to partners across all 3 regions, engaging over 80 attendees to enhance their knowledge on how to address any issues encountered by ethnic minority communities’ beneficiaries and gain knowledge on the following areas:
  • Hear about challenges and barriers impacting children, young people and their families in Wales
  • Have the opportunity to share and learn about experiences that supports engagement with ethnic minority communities
  • Network with stakeholders and other support agencies.
Annual Conference: Back to Life, Back to reality was a huge success, with over 47 attendees to hear the impact made to CYP and families and to round off what has been an extraordinary year for the BME CYP Project.  Our keynote speaker Rocio Cifuentes, the future Children's Commissioner for Wales gave overview of issues affecting our future generation. Also, further opportunity to all our stakeholders to work in partnership to bring change in Wales for CYP.

Our team also delivered the Keeping Children Safe on CSA booklet launch event to community & professionals, in hopes that parents can communicate this very sensitive subject with CYP and provide support when they disclose.
EYST Drop-Ins delivering strong!
Wrexham drop-ins continue to grow thanks to huge recent support from Wrexham Local Authority and youth support grants and the #WinterOfWellbeing. Huge thanks to Mind's Side by Side Grant for support towards our group with £500 being utilised and directed by young people!
The drop-in sessions in Cardiff & Wrexham remain super busy with delivery of the following trips recently: Mini Crazy Golf (20 CYP girls), Nando’s Meal (46 CYP girls), Laser Tag (22 CYP boys), Go Karting (22 CYP boys), Bronze Art Award with 13 girls for 12 weeks.
Huge month for All Wales Team in March!

The All Wales Black Asian Minority Ethnic Engagement Team kept busy with weekly forums and an info-session during March. Our three forums tackled some of the current issues of interest; Media and News Misrepresentation, Issues of importance to our Minority Ethnic Girls/Young Women and Environmental/Green Issues. In addition, an info-session was held on Learning Disabilities, presented by Learning Disability Wales and All Wales Forum. We have received encouraging, positive feedback from both attendees and Key Speakers, emphasising the need to run these sessions. Keep a lookout on our @AllWalesEYST Twitter account for information about future sessions.

We have started the process of recruiting individuals for an Independent Panel (incl. a Chairperson), to oversee the work of the Criminal Justice in Wales system, in relation to the Anti-Racism Action Plan that they have committed to. These paid positions will be rewarding work for those with a vested interest in anti-racism and an understanding or experience within the CJIW system.

Deadline for applications: 12pm on Tuesday 19 April.
For more information, please get in touch with

Our Team would like to send their thanks for such amazing leadership to our departing EYST CEO, Rocio Cifuentes. What an inspiring and motivational lead Rocio has been for us all - thank you for everything and we wish you the best in your new role as Children’s Commissioner for Wales! Farewell Rocio!
BME Invest's Khyber shares his experience at Event

Our participant Khyber met the Lord Mayor of Swansea at the Swansea City of Sanctuary Refugee Employment Workshop and Exhibition launch in the Grand Multicultural Hub in Swansea earlier this month. He was there to talk about his experiences on placement with Carmarthenshire County Council through BME Invest, EYST's Active Inclusion project funded with European Funds and managed by WCVA.

Khyber is currently working with Simple Lettings social housing at Carmarthenshire County Council. His role at the event on Monday was to explain to the group what he has gained from being on the placement and the training he has received.  He was particularly interested in the safeguarding training and has learned a lot about British culture and ways of working as a result of his placement.

The event, hosted by Swansea City of Sanctuary, was designed to get employers to think about diversifying their workforce and in particular, think about how they could attract refugees to work for them.

For more info, please contact

EYST Multi-lingual Helpline continue to promote their services

At the EYST Multi-lingual Helpline team, we continue taking calls and texts from asylum seekers and refugees based in Swansea on behalf of the Sanctuary Team. Call numbers have remained steady each week. Based on our experience and helpline skills, we have handled distressed and angry clients and provided language support where possible to complete communication loops.

With further easing of restrictions, we have been able to attend events to promote the Helpline services. Notable this month was the “Ageing Well” event at the LC2 in Swansea.

Our regular fortnightly meetings with staff from Citizen’s Advice Cymru are held to support continued smooth referrals from the Helpline to various branches of CAC across Wales.

Alongside our multi-lingual team, the advisors also have access to a pool of interpreters in 80 languages to support clients in a 3-way call. Our leaflets have been translated and are available for circulation in 16 community languages.

Email for more info.

Call: 0808 801 0720
(Monday – Friday 10.00am – 6.00pm)
Text: 07537 432 416
LIVE Webchat
For more information, please visit our website:
We celebrate our Volunteers' Contributions!

We are so grateful to our volunteers, who have been busy supporting young people, families and individuals, alongside EYST staff.

They provided one-to-one tuition sessions as part of the Online Homework Club on Zoom, and have made a big difference to the young people we support as they prepare for their exams. They also supported young people and families in person through EYST’s Drop Ins across Wales.

As we reached the end of the funding period, and marked new beginnings with the start of spring, we celebrated our volunteers’ amazing contribution. As our volunteers are based across Wales, we had a virtual Volunteer Event on Zoom. The volunteers shared all the different things they do, talked about their studies and volunteering, and we played Kahoot quizzes. 😊

We would like to extend our gratitude to our funders, who have made it possible for volunteering at EYST to expand and evolve. This project is funded by Welsh Government's Volunteering Wales Grant, administered by WCVA.

13 Month Old Refugee (A Poem)

As we round off this month's newsletter, we present to you a poem written by our very own Sorupa who performed the piece at our most recent staff development day as tribute to Rocio and her journey:

13 month old baby, a potential refugee,
With her parents then forced to flee,
Leaving her place of birth, inevitably,
Refugee status becoming a reality,
Political Refugee, Chile to Cymru, Finally Free.
A chance to grow and grow ‘happy’,
Embracing freedom,
A salvaged childhood,
Accepting opportunities,
Grateful being in relative safety,
What was left behind, not even in her memory,
Close to her heart, it has always been,
Hope, Freedom, Embracing Opportunities.
Hearing echoes of refugees,
Trials and tribulations,
Both near and far,
Imprisoned, tortured, or escaping bombs,
That could be you, that could be me,
She explained eloquently,
Terror, Fear, the Voices Calling.
Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan,
A few countries we’ve received amongst many
Providing a haven for those most in need,
Relocated to Swansea, Ystradgynlais, Carmarthenshire,
Going as far as Newtown and Pembrokeshire,
Her commitment to her role,
As Chief Executive,
Refugee, Asylum Campaigner, Next Stop Greatest Children’s Commissioner.
She’s shared, a roadmap for journeys ahead,
Her footprints laid bare,
For others to take care,
A legacy holding strong,
The 13 month old baby’s footprint,
I give you Rocio, her journey……
By Sorupa

Best of luck, Rocio! We will be cheering you on from the EYST HQ 😉

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