Millions of words and hundreds of books have been written about Swindon’s history (and I’ve written a few of them), but last week I was reminded that if you look deeply into the town’s past, the same words keep coming up.

The first two are ‘quality’ and ‘innovation’: think GWR, Garrard, Spitfires, Honda, BMW, the Magic Roundabout… not to mention the Swindon Advertiser, which was years ahead of its time when it was founded in 1854.

No rubbish here.

And the next two are ‘community’ and ‘inclusion’: think GWR Medical Fund, Mechanics’ Institute, celebrations of diversity.

Together they are the secret of Swindon’s unstoppable growth and success over nearly two centuries.

And because the vast majority of people who have called Swindon home over the years were born somewhere else (or their parents were), we understand why nobody arriving as a stranger should be allowed to stay one for long.

All this came sharply into focus on Thursday when I was privileged to join a small group who were given a guided tour of the Harbour Project’s new set-up in Broadgreen, by no less than the boss, Claire Garrett.

Because this inspiring charity is the embodiment of our generations-long Swindon philosophy of quality, innovation, community and inclusion.

They exist to provide lots of practical help to refugees and asylum seekers, and guide them not only through the minefield of applying to settle here, but the complexities of modern British life that all of us sometimes struggle with, regardless of how long we have lived here.

Unfortunately, most of their work seems to involve papering over the baffling and sometimes ludicrous rules and gross inefficiencies of a broken and misguided immigration system, which is presided over by a Home Office that seems to lack both the brains and the compassion to clear its self-generated backlog.

For that reason (not any so-called sudden ‘invasion’ of asylum seekers that some would have us believe), the Harbour Project now harbours around 1500 ‘visitors’, compared with the 350 who were needing their help in 2015.

That help comes in many forms: a place to meet; sound guidance; hands-on, practical advice; donations of basics such as refreshments and toiletries; maths, English and other lessons; or just the seemingly inexhaustible supply of smiles, friendly faces and encouragement from Harbour Project staff and volunteers.

And if you ask Claire what the charity most needs from Swindon folk, it’s not just the obvious (money and other donations), but also ‘goodwill’.

But that’s not to say they don’t already get lots of it, or that Swindon folk are any less welcoming than they have always been.

Indeed, the Harbour Project gives me hope that goodwill is alive and well here, and we should be as proud of certain things in our present as we are about our past.

And if they don’t make you optimistic about Swindon’s potential to recapture former greatness, probably nothing will.