Amgueddfa Blog: Ymgysylltu â'r Gymuned

Throughout 2017 the Museum has been celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Oakdale Workmen’s Institute with a variety of projects, all aimed at bringing the building alive again. One of these projects has involved cataloguing the books housed in the Institute’s Library.

 

When the building opened in 1917, the Circulating Library operated out of the Book Room (which is now the ladies lavatories), it wasn’t until 1932 that it was relocated into the current room, due to outgrowing its space.

 

The Book Committee was responsible for choosing and purchasing the books, and they purchased a wide variety of different subjects. There is a note in the Committee Minutes that in 1918 a book of “questionable character” was to be burned, but not before the Committee had been allowed to read it, if they so desired!

 

The rules for using the Library allowed for one book per member for 14 days, although in 1928 that was increased to two, so as to allow members to choose a book for their wives. And, in 1933 they decided to set up a children’s section in the Library.

 

The Library was well used, the minutes record the poor state of repair of the book stock due to overuse, at one point 300 to 500 books were being loaned each month. However, the Library was closed and the books dispersed when a branch of the County Library opened in 1967.

 

The Institute then closed entirely in 1987, before being relocated to St Fagans, where it was rebuilt and reopened to the public in 1995. At this time many other Workmen’s Institutes donated items from their buildings, and now the Library holds a mix of books from across many of those areas.

 

A keen group of volunteers came together to in May 2017, to start working on writing out book record cards. These would then be housed alphabetically in wooden drawers, allowing visitors to browse through the contents of the library shelves, much as original users of the Institute’s Library would have done.

 

As we copied out the details of each book, one by one, we had the opportunity to discuss the wide range of material available to the Institute’s members. The collection included technical manuals, classic works, poetry, sermons and bible stories, mysteries, thrillers and adventure stories, and political works.

 

The mystery and adventure novels certainly seemed the most popular, judging by the amount of date stamps in the front. However, probably the really popular books didn’t survive, as the wear and tear on them would have been the greatest.

 

We found many books in the library with the distinctive red covers of the Left Book Club, a publishing group founded by Victor Gollancz in 1936, with the aim to “help in the struggle for world peace and against fascism”. It offered members a monthly book choice, and the Book Committee at Oakdale joined in 1937.

 

We also found a number of books which had been part of the Boots Booklovers Library, an initiative that many of us hadn’t heard of before. From 1899 till 1966 Boots ran a subscription based lending library out of their chemist branches, at one point more than 400 branches across the UK were participating in the scheme. Many of the books had a distinctive green badge, identifying them as part of the Boots Library, and were probably donated after the closure of the branches.

 

A large collection of books that came originally from the Nantymoel Workmen’s Hall, donated by a father in 1952 in remembrance of his son. They were copies of the 100 Best Books collection from Sir John Lubbock's choice of books. This was a list originally compiled in 1886, after a speech given at the Working-Men’s College in London, on the best books for self-education.

 

We admired how attractive some of the books looked, with stunning illustrations or cover designs. There were a number dating from the 1930s, published by Gwasg Aberystwyth which had very striking designs, including a copy of Y crefftwr yng Nghymru (The craftsman in Wales) by Iorwerth C. Peate, founder of St Fagans National Museum of History!

Fel arfer Mis Hanes LGBT ym mis Chwefror yn frith o erthyglau a digwyddiadau yn ymwneud â chyfeiriadedd rhywiol, hunaniaeth, a’u hanes. Ond ddylai hanes byth gael ei gyfyngu i un mis, felly ar achlysur Pride Cymru yng Nghaerdydd, dyma gyfle da i ystyried hanes LGBT.

Stori ar Blât

Ystyriwch, er enghraifft, y plât yn nghasgliad Amgueddfa Cymru ag arno olygfa o ddwy fenyw yn marchogaeth. Mae’n un o filoedd o eitemau crochenwaith printio troslun glas a gwyn fu mor boblogaidd ers y 19eg ganrif. Ond mae’r llun hwn yn fwy nag addurn.

Plât, Crochendy Morgannwg, oddeutu 1813-1839

“Menywod Llangollen” yw teitl y gwaith, a ysbrydolwyd gan hanes dwy fenyw – y Fonesig Eleanor Butler a Miss Sarah Ponsonby.

Taniwyd fflam rhwng Eleanor a Sarah gartref yn Iwerddon, a chan ofni’r atyniad hwn rhwng dwy ferch, ceisiodd y ddau deulu eu gwahardd rhag gweld ei gilydd. Yn benderfynol o fod gyda’i gilydd, dihangodd y ddwy liw nos, ond cawsant eu dal ymhen fawr o dro. Brwydrodd Eleanor a Sarah yn ddiflino am yr hawl i fod gyda’i gilydd tan i’w teuluoedd ildio, a gadel iddynt fynd.

Teithiodd y ddwy i Gymru ac ymgartrefu ger Llangollen, gan fyw yno am dros 50 mlynedd.

Enwogrwydd 'Menywod Llangollen'

Lledodd yr hanes amdanynt yn gyflym, a byddent yn llythyra gydag enwogion megis Shelley, Byron, Syr Walter Scott, Dug Wellington, Josiah Wedgewood a Caroline Lamb, gyda nifer yn ymweld â’r ddwy yn Llangollen. Parhaodd y diddordeb yn y cwpl wedi eu marw ym 1829 a 1831 ac erbyn heddiw maent yn adnabyddus fel un o’r cyplau lesbiaidd enwocaf erioed.

Roedd y ddwy yn bendant yn ystod eu bywydau nad oedden nhw am gael llun neu bortread wedi’i dynnu.

Ond pan ymwelodd y Fonesig Parker ym 1829, perswadiodd ei mam i ddwyn sylw Eleanor a Sarah tra’i bod hithau’n creu brasluniau cyflym o dan y bwrdd. Erbyn hynny roedd Eleanor yn hollol ddall, felly llwyddodd y Fonesig Parker i fraslunio’i hwyneb yn llawn, tra bod Sarah mewn proffil. Wedi i’r cwpwl farw, datblygodd y brasluniau yn ddarlun llawn o’r ddwy yn eu llyfrgell a gwerthu copïau i godi arian at elusennau.

Portread o'r Foneddiges Eleanor Butler a Sarah Ponsonby, wedi'i ddarlunio ar sail sgets cyfrin a wnaethpwyd yn eu cartref yn Llangollen (c) Norena Shopland
Portread o'r Foneddiges Eleanor Butler a Sarah Ponsonby, wedi'i ddarlunio ar sail sgets cyfrin a wnaethpwyd yn eu cartref yn Llangollen

Dwyn Portread 

Oddeutu 1830 copïwyd y darlun heb ganiatâd gan James Henry Lynch ac ef gynhyrchodd y darlun mwyaf adnabyddus o Eleanor a Sarah. Masgynhyrchwyd y darlun a’i ddefnyddio ar amryw o nwyddau megis cofroddion twristiaid, cardiau post a chloriau nifer o lyfrau.

Portread 'Lynch' o'r Foneddiges Eleanor Butler a Sarah Ponsoby, wedi'i gopïo yn helaeth o'r portread 'Llyfrgell'. Fe werthwyd nifer sylweddol o'r print hwn. (c) Norena Shopland
Portread 'Lynch' o'r Foneddiges Eleanor Butler a Sarah Ponsoby, wedi'i gopïo yn helaeth o'r portread 'Llyfrgell'. Fe werthwyd nifer sylweddol o'r print hwn.

Mae darlun Lynch yn eu dangos yn sefyll yn yr awyr agored ac yn gwisgo’r clogynnau marchogaeth oedd yn gymaint o ffefryn gan y dwy. Ymddangosodd y gwaith tua diwedd y cyfnod o ddiddordeb cyhoeddus ym mywyd Eleanor a Sarah; erbyn troad y 19eg ganrif roedd hanes y menywod wedi lledu a nifer yn cyhoeddi eu stori.

Ysgrifennodd William Wordsworth gerdd ym 1824 ar ôl ymweld â’r ddwy. Ymddangosodd y crochenwaith felly mewn cyfnod pan oedd diddordeb mawr yn eu hanes.

Crochenwaith Morgannwg a Hanes 'Plât Llangollen'

Mae’r plât cyntaf yn dangos y ddwy ar eu ceffylau yn siarad â gwr yn cario pladur dros ei ysgwydd. Yn y cefndir mae gyrr o wartheg, tref Llangollen, afon Dyfrdwy a fersiwn hynod ramantus o gastell Dinas Brân.

Gwyddom ddyddiad cynhyrchu cynharaf y plât o stamp y gwneuthurwr ar y gwaelod – ‘BB&I’, sef Baker, Bevin and Irwin o Grochendy Morgannwg ac a ddefnyddiwyd oddeutu 1815-25. Daeth yn un o blatiau enwocaf y crochendy hwnnw. Er bod Eleanor a Sarah yn frwd dros gadw dyddiaduron, ac i’r gwaith gael ei gynhyrchu yn ystod bywydau’r ddwy, nid oes sôn amdano yn eu hysgrifau. Wyddon ni ddim os oeddent yn gwybod am fodolaeth y platiau neu wedi cytuno i gael eu portreadu yn y fath fodd.

Ym 1838 daeth Crochendy Morgannwg dan reolaeth y gwr busnes o Abertawe Lewis Llewelyn Dillwyn ac fe barhaodd i gynhyrchu’r platiau dan stampiau Morgannwg, Abertawe a Cambrian tan oddeutu 1840. Mae’n debygol ei fod yn defnyddio’r un dyluniad yng Nghrochendy Cambrian ym 1925; roedd cystadleuaeth gref rhwng y ddau grochendy a byddent yn aml yn copïo gwaith ei gilydd.[1]

Y cyswllt rhyfeddol yma yw taw un o aelodau enwocaf teulu Lewis oedd Amy Dillwyn. Menyw fusnes oedd Amy, ac yn ogystal a bod yn nofelydd blaenllaw, hi gymerodd yr awenau yng ngweithfeydd sinc ei thad wedi iddo farw.

Roedd Amy hefyd mewn perthynas hoyw. Braf yw breuddwydio bod Amy, wedi gweld plât Crochendy Morgannwg, wedi dwyn perswâd ar ei brawd i’w gynhyrchu yng Nghrochendy Cambrian, ond nid oes unrhyw dystiolaeth o hyn.

Manylun o blât glas yn dangos darlun o Sarah Ponsonby ac Eleanor Butler © Norena Shopland
Manylun o blât glas yn dangos darlun o Sarah Ponsonby ac Eleanor Butler © Norena Shopland

Manylun o blât glas yn dangos darlun o Sarah Ponsonby ac Eleanor Butler © Norena Shopland
Manylun o blât glas yn dangos darlun o Sarah Ponsonby ac Eleanor Butler © Norena Shopland

Mae’n anodd dweud os taw plât Crochendy Morgannwg oedd y cyntaf i gael ei gynhyrchu, neu plât gan  William Adams o Stoke. Ladies of Llangollen yw enw’r dyluniad hwn hefyd, gyda dwy fenyw mewn clogynnau marchogaeth yn sefyll dros ŵr sydd yn dangos pysgodyn mawr i’r ddwy. Yn y cefndir mae’r ceffylau, ac yn y pellter mae dau ŵr mewn cwch ar afon gyda phont drosti a bwthyn gwerinol ar y lan. Ar y gorwel mae mynydd Cadair Bedwyr.

Cynhyrchodd Adams gyfres grochenwaith dan y teitl ‘Native’ yn y 1820au, ac roedd y plât hwn yn rhan o’r gyfres honno. Yn fuan caffaelwyd y dyluniad gan F. ac R. Pratt o Fenton, Swydd Stafford gan ailenwi’r gyfers yn ‘Pratt’s Native Scenery’ a’i hatgynhyrchu rhwng 1880 a 1920. Prynwyd y busnes gan Cauldon yn y 1920au a cynhyrchwyd yr un dyluniad tan y 1930au.

Mae diddordeb mawr o hyd ym mywydau Eleanor a Sarah, yn enwedig wrth i ni drafod y diffiniad o berthynas lesbiaid yn y gorffennol. Er gwaetha’r diddordeb, prin yw’r sylw a roddir i’r crochenwaith glas a gwyn yma, a peth da yw cofio bod y gweithiau yma yn rhan o gasgliad LGBT Amgueddfa Cymru.

 

NORENA SHOPLAND

Awdur Forbidden Lives: LGBT stories from Wales a gyhoeddir gan wasg Seren, 17eg o Hydref, 2017

Gwefan: http://www.rainbowdragon.org

 

[1] Diolch i Andrew Renton, Ceidwad Celf Amgueddfa Cymru am gadarnhau

Artist 'dwi, ac ar hyn o bryd dwi'n astudio gradd MA mewn dylunio a chrefft cyfoes. Fe ymwelais i â’r casgliad Molysga ar ôl darllen blog am strwythr mewnol cregyn ar wefan yr amgueddfa. Mi wnes gysylltiad rhwng strwythurau mewnol cregyn a sut y mae printwyr 3D yn gweithio ac yn creu siapiau. Ar y blog roedd rhif cyswllt ar gyfer Curadur Molysga, felly mi gysylltais â Harriet Wood, heb wybod beth i’w ddisgwyl.

Ffotograff o groestoriad o argraffiad 3D, sy'n dangod y strwythr mewnol
Strwythr mewnol argraffiad 3D © Matthew Day 2017

Pan esboniais fy ngwaith yn gyda prosthetau wrth Harriet, a’r cysylltiadau rhwng strwythr cregyn ac argraffu 3D, mi wahoddodd fi i ymweld â’r casgliadau, ac i fy nghyflwyno i’r person sy’n gyfrifol am sganio ac argraffu 3D yn yr amgueddfa.

Mynd 'tu ôl i'r llen'

Fuaswn i fyth wedi gallu dychmygu ymweliad gystal. Fe gwrddais â Harriet wrth ddesg wybodaeth yr amgueddfa ac yna mynd ‘tu ôl i’r llen’, ble cedwir y casgliad. Roedd cerdded trwy’r amgueddfa i gyrraedd yr ardal ‘cefn tŷ’ yn braf a modern. Roedd yn f’atgoffa o bapur academaidd y darllenais cyn ymweld, o The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum: ‘How Digital Artist Engagement Can Function as and Open Innovation Model to Facilitate Audience Encounters with Museum Collections’ gan Sarah Younan a Haitham Eid. 

ffotograff yn dangos cwpwrdd mawr llawn droriau sbesimen
Rhai o'r archifau yn Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Caerdydd © Matthew Day 2017

Mae gan ‘cefn tŷ’ yr amgueddfa naws arbennig – dyw’r cyhoedd ddim yn cael mentro yma heb drefnu o flaen llaw. Roedd yn fraint cael cerdded trwy stafelloedd yn llawn cregyn ‘mae pobl wedi eu casglu, ac wedi’u gwerthfawrogi am eu harddwch, dros y blynyddoedd. Beth oedd yn fwya diddorol imi oedd pa mor berffaith oedd y toriadau yn y cregyn. Roedd yn cregyn wedi’u torri yn edrych fel taw dyma oedd eu ffurf naturiol – roedd pob toriad yn gain iawn ac yn gweddu i siâp y gragen. Dyma beth oeddwn i eisiau ei weld.

Ffotograff du a gwyn yn dangos amrywiaeth o dafelli cregyn
Tafellau o gregyn yn Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Caerdydd © Matthew Day 2017

Doedd gen i ddim geiriau i fynegi fy hun pan welais i’r casgliad yma o gregyn – yn enwedig gweld y darn o’r gragen na fyddwn ni’n cael ei weld fel arfer. Rodd yn gyffrous gweld y strwythr mewnol, am ei fod yn ychwanegu gwerth asthetig i’r cregyn. Roedden nhw’n fy atgoffa o waith cerflunio Barbara Hepworth, artist dwi’n ei hedmygu yn fawr.

Ffotograff du a gwyn yn dangos cragen siâp côn wedi'i dorri i ddangos strwythr troellog y gragen
© Matthew Day 2017

Rydym ni’n gweld cregyn ar y traeth drwy’r amser, a mae’n nhw’n fy nghyfareddu – yn enwedig cregyn wedi torri ble gellir gweld y tu fewn i’r gragen. Mae hwnnw fel arfer yn doriad amherffaith, yn wahanol iawn i’r toriadau bwriadol yn y casgliad, sydd wedi’u gwneud yn bwrpasol i ddangos ini beth sydd ar y tu fewn. Caf fy atynnu at ffurfiau naturiol sydd wedi eu siapio gan berson.  

Sganio 3D: Celf a Gwyddoniaeth

Cyn archwilio’r cregyn fy hyn, cynigiodd Harriet i fynd â fi i lawr i weld Jim Turner, a dyna ble buom ni’n trafod am rhan helaeth fy ymweliad, am fod ei waith mor ddiddorol.

Mae Jim yn gweithio mewn labordy sy’n defnyddio proses ffotograffig o’r enw ‘Stacio-z’ (neu EDF, ‘extended depth of field’), sy’n cael ei ddefnyddio yn aml mewn ffotograffeg facro a ffoto-microscopeg.

Ar hyn o bryd, mae'n creu archif o wrthrychau wedi’u sganio mewn 3D ar gyfer gwefan yr amgueddfa, ble all bobol ryngweithio gyda’r sganiau yn defnyddio cyfarpar VR – gan greu profiad hollol newydd i’r amgueddfa.

Gallais ddeall yn syth beth oedd Jim yn ei wneud o fy mhrofiad i. Esboniodd y broses a roedd nifer o elfennau technegol tebyg. Roedd yn bleser cael siarad gyda rhywun sy’n defnyddio sganio 3D mewn ffordd wahanol imi. Mae Jim yn defnyddio sganio 3D mewn ffordd dwi wedi ei weld mewn papurau academaidd. Er nad yw’n gwneud gwaith creadigol gyda’r cregyn, mae e dal yn rhoi gwrthrychau mewn cyd-destun newydd, ble all pobl ryngweithio â nhw yn defnyddio technoleg ddigidol fel cyfarpar VR neu ar y we trwy sketchfab.

'Fel bod ar y traeth...'

Pan ddes i ‘nôl at y casgliad molysga, mi ges i amser i ymchwilio’r casgliad ar fy liwt fy hun a doedd dim pwysau arna i i frysio – felly ces gyfle i edrych yn graff ac archwilio’r cregyn. Roedd fel bod ar draeth a chael oriau i archwilio’r holl wrthrychau naturiol.

Ffotograff du a gwyn yn dangos cragen siâp côn wedi'i dorri i ddangos strwythr troellog y gragen
© Matthew Day 2017

Cafodd yr ymweliad effaith wych ar fy mhrosiect MA – a mawr yw’r diolch i Harriet a Jim am eu hamser. Trwy’r ymweliad, fe fagais hyder i gysylltu ag amgueddfeydd eraill, fel Amgueddfa Feddygol Worcester, ‘ble bues i’n gweithio gyda soced prosthetig o’u casgliad. Mi sganiais y soced, ac wedi fy ysbrydoli gan gasgliad molysga Harriet, mi greais gyfres o socedi prosthetic cerfluniol, wedi’u hysbrydoli gan strwythurau mewnol cregyn, oedd yn darlunio croestoriadau rhai o’r cregyn mwya atyniadol yn y casgliad.

'Cerflun ynddo'i hun': fy nghasgliad o gerflunwaith brosthetig

Ffotograffau cyfochrog yn dangos hosan brosthetic a thafell gragen. Mae'r hosan brosthetig wedi'i chynllunio i gynrychioli siâp mewnol y gragen
Prototeip cysyniadol o hosan brosthetig wedi'i ysbrydoli gan y casgliadau molysga yn Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Caerdydd © Matthew Day 2017

ffotograff yn dangos hosan brosthetig gerfluniadol ddu gydag addurn melyn
Prototeip o hosan brosthetig gerfluniadol wedi'i ysbrydoli gan gasgliad Molysga Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Caerdydd © Matthew Day 2017
ffotograff yn dangos hosan brosthetig gerfluniadol lwyd gydag addurn melyn
Hosan brosthetig wedi'i hargraffu mewn 3D a'i llifo, wedi'i ysbrydoli gan y casgliadau Molysga yn Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Caerdydd © Matthew Day 2017

ffotograff yn dangos hosan brosthetig gerfluniadol gydag addurn mawr siâp cragen gron
Hosan brosthetic wedi'i hargraffu mewn 3D a'i lifo, wedi'i ysbrydoli gan gasgliad Molysga Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Caerdydd © Matthew Day 2017

 

Be’ Nesa?

Mae fy ngwrs MA nawr ar ei anterth, a dwi’n edrych ymlaen at ddechrau’r prif fodiwl dros yr haf.

Ar gyfer y rhan olaf o’r cwrs, hoffwn i gymryd yr hyn dw i wedi ei archwilio a’i ymchwilio hyd yn hyn, a’i ddefnyddio i greu darn prosthetig a allai fod yn rywbeth all rhywun ei wisgo, ond sydd yn gerflun ynddo'i hun – a mae’r gwaith yn mynd yn dda.

darlun 3D o gynllun ar gyfer cynllun coes brosthetig, gydag addurniadau wedi'u hysbrydoli gan strwythr mewnol cregyn
Darlun cysyniadol o goes brosthetig gerfluniadol, wedi'i ysbrydoli gan gasgliad Molysga Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Caerdydd © Matthew Day 2017

Hoffwn i greu rhywbeth wirioneddol syfrdanol yn defnyddio argraffu 3D, gan ymgorffori asthetig wedi’i ysbrydoli gan y casgliad cregyn a’i uno gyda’r cerflunwaith prosthetig a welwch yma ar y blog.

Gallwch weld mwy o fy ngwaith ar fy ngwefan: Matthew Day Sculpture

Dyma un o’r storfeydd rhyfedd a rhyfeddol yn Sain Ffagan Amgueddfa Werin Cymru. Mae’n llawn dop o wrthrychau. Rydyn ni’n dal i gasglu pethau newydd, ond rhaid i ni ddewis a dethol beth i’w gadw. Does dim digon o le i bopeth!

Storfa yn Sain Ffagan Amgueddfa Werin Cymru

Mae pob math o bethau i’w canfod mewn storfa o hanes cymdeithasol, o goes glec i gloc tad-cu.

Ar ei hymweliad cyntaf â’r stôr, cafodd un o’r merched ei rhybuddio i wylio rhag y mantrap. Jôc dda, meddyliodd hi. Ond na, mae mantrap yn llechu ym mhen un coridor tywyll!

Rydw i wedi bod yn ymwybodol ers amser bod y mwyafrif helaeth o gasgliadau amgueddfeydd yn cuddio mewn storfeydd, a taw dim ond cyfran fach sydd i’w gweld yn yr orielau. Doeddwn i ddim yn sylweddoli gwir raddau hyn tan i fi ddechrau gweithio yma.

O’r 5 miliwn wrthrychau sydd yng ngofal y saith amgueddfa; o geir clasurol, i garreg leuad, paentiadau byd-enwog, cadwyni caethweision a thoiled cyhoeddus; faint o wrthrychau sydd yn cael eu harddangos?

Dim ond 0.2% o gasgliadau Amgueddfa Cymru sydd yn cael eu harddangos.

Os ydych chi am weld gwrthrych penodol yn un o’r amgueddfeydd, gwnewch yn siŵr ei fod wedi’i arddangos gyntaf. Gallwch chi hefyd wneud apwyntiad i weld gwrthrychau penodol. Diolch i chwaraewyr y People’s Postcode Lottery, rydyn ni wedi derbyn nawdd i ehangu’n cofnodion ac ychwanegu delweddau fydd i’w gweld ar Casgliadau Ar-lein yn yr hydref. Cadwch lygad hefyd am deithiau tu ôl i’r llenni yn y storfeydd dan arweiniad ein curaduron a’n cadwraethwyr. Gall y rhain fod yn agoriad llygad!

Rydyn ni’n gofalu am y casgliadau drosoch chi. Gobeithio y byddan nhw’n rhoi cymaint o bleser i chi ag i ni.

People's Postcode Lottery Logo

Wales is culturally diverse from three hundred years of industrial heritage and a history of people coming here for work in mining and quarrying, dock yards, heavy industry. Lately jobs in tourism, modern industry and students coming to study at our universities make us a melting pot of cultures. Indeed, my grand-father came to Swansea from the Faroe Islands (Danish) and my wife’s grand-father came from Holland, both to work on the docks around 1910. As economic migrants – they came here to earn more money and have a better life, they were not refugees.

They stayed, married Welsh girls and raised families. The street I grew up on, Prince of Wales Road in the Hafod, Swansea there lived people from Italy, Ireland, Scotland, Poland and England, and the bottom of the street was known as ‘Jews Row’ where Jews from all over the world lived. As children we just thought this was normal and every street in the UK was just like ours.

Unsurprisingly with this background, Swansea became a ‘City of Sanctuary’ in 2010, the second one in the UK after Sheffield.

Part of my job is in the Public History Team for Amgueddfa Cymru. This means we actively seek out different groups and individuals in the community and gather their stories and history. Through my job I have met people who have been displaced from their homeland for various reasons and are seeking safety and shelter.

So, when last May (2017), I attended ‘Asylum Seeker and Refugee Awareness’ training at the Waterfront Museum as part of our staff training, I thought I was fairly clued up about the subject.

The training was delivered by a lady working for Swansea City of Sanctuary and another lady who was an asylum seeker and she told us about her personal experiences.

It’s strange, we see stuff on the TV and news and read stories in the papers and get a picture in our heads about a situation but very often is only half a story. Learning factual numbers and hearing personal testimony made me realise how far off the mark I was, how little I knew.

For instance, we were asked to rank the top ten countries of the world in order of which ones take the most refugees. As a group we managed to name one or two correctly.

The top ten are: Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Uganda, Congo and Chad.

Surprised? I was. The UK, Germany or France don’t make the top ten even though I was convinced they would as it seems to make headlines on a regular basis in our media. The biggest refugee camp in the world is in Kenya with around 200,000 people living in it!

We learned what the difference is between an asylum seeker and a refugee. Both are displaced persons – they have had to leave their country of origin for lots of different reasons; war, religious beliefs, persecution or sexual orientation.

An asylum seeker is a person who is fleeing persecution in their home country, has come to the UK and made themselves known to the authorities. They then exercise their legal right to apply for asylum. If they are granted asylum here then they have ‘refugee’ status.

I found out that many of these desperate people are brought to Europe and the UK by traffickers and quite often they have no idea which country they are in. Most are stripped of belongings and passports so have no way of proving who they are, their age and marital status etc. when questioned by the authorities.

After assessment and a screening interview, if the person becomes an asylum seeker they then have to wait until their case is further assessed to get refugee status or be rejected. At any time during this process people can be subject to detention, deportation or destitution. Destitution means having no recourse to public funds, having no money and nowhere to live.

Asylum seekers are dispersed all over the country and are given free accommodation in private lettings. They are not allowed to work. They receive a maximum of £36.95 a week - £5.28 a day for food, toiletries, everyday needs and travel. As asylum seekers have to regularly sign in at an immigration office which can be some distance from where they live, a day’s money can be used up in bus fares.

The application process can take years for a person to get a decision on refugee status and the onus is on the asylum seeker to prove persecution of an ongoing threat and not a one off occurrence.

For many this period in limbo can very difficult. The lady we spoke to told us to imagine you suddenly found yourself in somewhere like China and couldn’t speak the language or understand the culture. Finding your way around and doing simple tasks is almost impossible. For example, she told us her and her two young children were placed in a house in Swansea on a cold January day. The house was cold, it had central heating but she had never seen central heating controls before and didn’t know how to work it. This lady was a psychologist in her own country but her qualifications are useless in the UK. She told us that even with all these problems she felt safe here, which was all she wanted for her family.

After the process is completed and refugee status is granted, as refugees they have the right to work and apply for family reunification. From March 2017, cases can be reviewed after five years to see if the threat to the person is still ongoing or if it is possible to be returned to their country of origin.

If refugee status is not granted there are a number of avenues for appeal but ultimately if status is not granted then the person can be deported.

After listening to the trainer and hearing the stories of asylum seekers I was left with a helpless feeling inside me. Every story we heard made me think ‘what if that was me and my family?’ and how grateful we would be to find somewhere to feel safe. The biggest point I took away from the morning was: Refugees are just people like you and me who had jobs, housing, education and good standards of living, suddenly taken away from them through no fault of their own. They just need the chance to start over again without fear.

At the end of 2016 there were 2,997 asylum seekers in Wales, 0.09% of the population.