Column: When is a welcome ticket not welcoming? When there's an expiry date.

Sioned Williams writes about why the Welcome Ticket needs to be brought back.  

Graphic to show Sioned Williams' column as it appeared in South Wales Evening Post

This article was originally published in South Wales Evening Post on Thursday 18 April.


When is a welcome ticket not welcoming? When there’s an expiry date.

Wales has a proud history of warmly accepting people affected by conflict and adversity. These are the exact words Welsh Government uses on its website for people from Ukraine who are seeking sanctuary in Wales. 

If you’re fleeing war, you often arrive with just the clothes on your back. You don’t have a car, and you’re unlikely to have a support network. Coupled with this, most people seeking sanctuary in Wales, or indeed the UK, aren’t allowed to work, and they don’t all have access to public money. 

This means that the Welsh Government’s Welcome Ticket, which enabled Ukrainian and other refugees free travel on public transport in Wales, was a literal lifeline. 

Launched in March 2022 as part of a package of support measures to help refugees integrate more effectively in Welsh life, sadly this welcome wasn’t forever, as Welsh Government brought this scheme to an end in March this year. While they promised that something would replace it, here we are in the middle of April without a new scheme in sight. 

This news has come as a particular blow to those involved in the City of Sanctuary work in Swansea who have shown how supportive and welcoming they are to those seeking sanctuary.

Swansea was Wales’ first city to be declared a City of Sanctuary, and only the second in the UK. 

When I spoke to them about the Welcome Ticket, they told me how it had made a real difference for those who are beginning to build their lives in Wales. They now have concerns that the gap in the scheme will worsen issues of discrimination and exclusion.

They have previously flagged issues with some eligible refugees being refused travel on public transport, which had led to discriminatory treatment and, in some cases, racist attacks.

Providing free public transport to those who have had to flee war and famine, might be a small gesture, but it’s of real value to those who have started to try and rebuild their lives here in Wales.

If we claim to be a Nation of Sanctuary, we must put our money where our mouth is. There shouldn’t be a limit on this particular Welcome.

This starts with you

We can make Wales a safer, better place to live. Sign up today and show your support.