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THE issue of homes – such a hot potato here in Wales – has sprung to the top of the political agenda this week.
It’s reported that up to 25,000 individuals have responded to the UK Government’s plan to rehouse Ukrainian refugees in people’s homes.
It’s heartwarming to see such a willingness to help out on the part of the general public in view of the growing humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.
Although it could be argued that both the government and the individuals concerned haven’t properly thought out all the implications of such a policy.
With no real debate about the practicalities beyond a good deal of virtue-signalling by various politicians and celebrities.
Gwlad Leader Gwyn Wigley Evans said the media-driven emotionalism had to be tempered by pragmatic considerations.
‘It’s good that people from Wales have put their names forward for this scheme-but I do think we should have a proper debate about it all’ he said.
‘There’s a whole host of practical considerations that have to be looked at before being carried along on a wave of emotion’.
Mr. Evans said it was also an opportunity to broaden the whole debate about the availability of homes in general in Wales.
Saying that if politicians could move heaven and earth to accommodate people moving 1,500 miles to live here, it was only right that they give the same level of attention to the seriousness of the homes crisis in Wales itself as well.
‘Charity does begin at home after all. Let’s put pressure on our politicians to make homes count again’ he said.
‘We know of so many people who are homeless, and so many young people priced out of the housing market here already – so let’s have a wide ranging debate on homes for all now’.
In the case of any refugees who would like to come to Wales, one option would be to make use of one clear resource Wales has, i.e the 20,000 plus second homes we have here – which are empty for so many months each year.
Allowing refugees to make use of these properties for 6 months could be an alternative option here in Wales.
Possibly providing more privacy and sense of space for those who end up here.
‘Perhaps local charities and churches etc could be encouraged to provide support for the refugee families in their new surroundings’ said Mr Evans.
‘We all know there’s a huge need to build up a new sense of community after the last two years, and who knows, this could be one way to do it’.
The international definition of a war refugee is someone leaving a war-torn country and settling in the first non-hostile country.
It seems remarkable in one sense that it’s now taken as read that individuals should travel 1,500 miles to settle in the UK.
The power of the media to instill in people the expectation that this should happen, and that they should also ‘play their part’ in all this is somewhat disturbing.
But, if it facilitates a wider discussion about the need for homes and the necessity to act to secure homes for people, it may prove to be a blessing in disguise.