Refugees living in Ceredigion were invited to celebrate the Orthodox Christmas Day – a public holiday celebrated in Ukraine on 07 January 2023.

Ceredigion County Council in partnership with the Widening Access Team at University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD), Lampeter Campus arranged for Ukrainians and all refugees in Ceredigion and those residing on the borders in Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire. They came together to celebrate the Orthodox Church Christmas day, which is the main religion in Ukraine. The University also extended an invitation to residential students at the University to attend.

Laryssa attended the celebration and said: “Thank you very much to all the people who organised this event for us. It was nice, kind and tasty.”

Over 120 attendees were present in an event where everyone could engage in play, music and craft activities. There was also an opportunity to have informal discussions with partner agencies which would help with integration into the local community. The British Red Cross, NHS Community Development Outreach Team, Careers Wales and Dyfed Powys Police were present. Housing Justice Cymru and Citizens Advice Ceredigion shared additional information on their stalls. 

Joining the Refugees and the Students were Councillor Alun Williams, Deputy Leader of Ceredigion County Council; Councillor Rhys Bebb Jones, Deputy Mayor of Lampeter; and Councillor Ann Bowen Morgan, Councillor for Lampeter. Councillor Williams said: “It was wonderful to bring a range of people from the community together in one place to celebrate the Orthodox Christmas Day with our refugees. Ceredigion, as well as neighbouring counties, have welcomed others with open arms. This was an opportunity to bring everyone together, share information and celebrate the day together and it all went extremely well.”

Samantha Bowen, UWTSD Widening Access Manager Samantha, said: “UWTSD is committed to removing the barriers to participation in Higher Education faced by those seeking asylum in the UK. The University is currently applying for University of Sanctuary status which will enable refugees and asylum seekers to access free education and support during their studies and has offered a scholarship enabling students from Ukraine to study the postgraduate award in Global Citizenship and Sustainable Leadership.”

Entertainment was provided by Arts4wellbeing, Active Ceredigion and Lampeter Ukulele group. A smoothie bike was kindly loaned by TGP Cymru.