Our Mission

At GARAS (Gloucestershire Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers) we offer support to those seeking asylum in Gloucestershire, welcoming them when they arrive, advocating for them in their daily struggles, supporting them if they face being sent back as well as helping them adjust to their long term future if they are recognised as refugees.

Contact Information

Gloucestershire Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers (GARAS)
The Trust Centre
Falkner St

Telephone: 01452 550528
General enquiries: info@garas.org.uk
Administrative enquiries: admin@garas.org.uk

Adele Owen

What can you do?

September 4, 2015

In view of the tragedies on the borders of Europe over the past few days, it is more apparent than ever that the response of many many people is very caring and concerned.

We have received many wonderful offers of help and expressions of frustration at an inability to oppose the rhetoric emanating from some of the press.  We are so pleased to have witnessed a change in the press this week, becoming more sympathetic.  However, much more needs to be done!  We are also frequently asked what can be done, so here are some suggestions:

1. Be informed there is a lot of misinformation and lies told about asylum seekers and refugees and all who need to flee their home countries.  (There are some links here on the GARAS website, scroll down to the bottom of the page.)
And be happy to challenge that misinformation. (Tricky sometimes, but worth it.)

2. Write – to your MP, the local press, the national press, Number 10.  Show them you care, show them there is another voice.  (Again, for an example, you may like to check out our website, under ‘Online donations, support and campaigning’.)

3. Offer time – it may be there are volunteering opportunities around. Or collections to go to those in need.  (Why not go to Calais?  Check out this local group on fb.)

4. Give – all the organisations that are supporting asylum seekers need financial support to keep that work going. That may be giving to your local organisation, like GARAS, so that we can help those here, it may be at a national level. It could be for organisations who are working with those in Calais, Greece, Hungary, Macedonia or Italy, or it could be to organisations such as the UNHCR, who are working with millions of refugees and displaced peoples in very dire situations.

You can also follow this blog.  As featured on here earlier this week, here’s a list of other suggestions of what you may like to do to help!  This particularly focuses on helping refugees and those who have already reached UK shores.

Employers – offer work experience, voluntary opportunities for asylum seekers and refugees. Befriend- go along to meals held at Brunswick Baptist (get in touch with them or us for more info)… Welcome the foreigner!!

Landlords- rent out rooms and flats to those on housing benefits, who don’t have a guarantor and can’t afford high fees to rent homes through letting agents.  Offer affordable, good quality accommodation. (An organisation who can help you manage this is Chapter 1– Tel 01452 412500, ask for Samantha and mention GARAS.)

Teach someone English.  Have someone round for a meal.

Visit people in hospital or who are unwell.

Help someone prepare for a job interview.

Donate your clothes to charity shops so people can snap up nice quality clothes for not much (or for free if they’re already volunteering in said shop!).

Write and record a song to get into the charts (a la Black Eyed Peas ‘Where is the love?’).

Get your famous friends on board to become our patrons and raise the profile and raise the fundraising stakes.

Contribute to billboard campaigns, such as ‘I am an immigrant‘ by JCWI.

Give your tins to FoodBank who feed the poor and destitute. Otherwise drop some off direct to GARAS. (For updated list of what kind of things are required check out our website.)

Learn a language – say hello to people in Arabic, for example. Test out your school French on people from West Africa.  Make them feel welcome.

Donate a sleeping bag you no longer need or use, to a charity who give it to those in need.

Show some hospitality. Treat people to an afternoon tea in the Cotswolds, and let them show and serve you their Ethiopian coffee/ Indian chai.

Break the fast at the end of Ramadan days with Muslim friends.

Be normal. Be friendly. Be yourself. Give of your time.

Find out what people’s skills are and encourage them to use them. Ask that graphic designer to design you a poster; ask the photographer to take some photos. Don’t take advantage but let that person come alive.

Play cricket with the Afghan kids in the park.

Play football with the guys in the park.

Get involved in fostering. You may well meet some unaccompanied minors in need of some TLC, support and stability. Eg Community Foster Care, Fostering Matters.

Raise funds- do something sponsored.

Donate your unwanted furniture to help someone furnish their new house or flat.

Donate some of your unused materials/ threads/ sewing machines to the sewing project.

Give your old toys and children’s books to those without.

Invite people over on Christmas Day.

If you’re a hairdresser, offer free model cuts or reduced rates for those in need of a trim.

Become a member of GARAS, where we’ll send you email updates and invitations to our AGM and other conferences.

Do what you can. Be yourself. Do what only you can do. (Get in touch! We’d love to hear from you!)