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
Gloucester
GL1 4SQ

Telephone: 01452 550528
email: info@garas.org.uk
www.garas.org.uk

Director
Adele Owen

Kindertransport

June 17, 2019

Eighty years ago this week, ten Jewish boys who had escaped Nazi persecution on the Kindertransport, arrived in Gloucester to be cared for in a hostel in Alexandria Road – an anniversary we are commemorating at a GARAS event on Tuesday 18th June . In the last few months, Michael Zorek, the son of one of the boys has managed to track down the only ‘boy’ still living (now in his nineties); the sons and daughters of 7 others; and the grandchildren of both the refugee couple who looked after them and of the chair of Gloucester Association for Aiding Refugees (GAAR) the organisation that brought them here. Through the Kindertransport and the philanthropy of GAAR, the boys survived and went on to live fulfilled lives, though most never saw their parents again.

Their story has many resonances with the experiences of Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children (UASC) today. Then, many thousands who sought to flee Nazi persecution were refused entry for fear of a ‘Jewish flood’ and were subsequently killed – the 10,000 or so children who came on the Kindertransport were a small number compared with those unable to get out. Today, we are supporting over 80 UASC in Gloucestershire, but because of Government inaction thousands of others who arrive in Europe and who have the right (through the Dubs amendment) to come to the UK because they have relatives here, have been unable to do so and are sleeping rough in places like Calais where they are vulnerable to traffickers.

Back in 1938, the Government refused to foot the bill for the Kindertransport, so concerned citizens mounted a mammoth effort to raise funds, provide foster homes and welcome the children. Today, much of GARAS’s work depends on the efforts of volunteers, and the donations that we receive from the public.

In 1940, asylum seekers and refugees from German territories were interned in camps as potential enemy aliens. Today, many refugees are put into secure holding centres whilst their claim is considered.

While we should celebrate the efforts of the people of Gloucester to rescue and support the ten Kindertransport boys, we shouldn’t look through rose-tinted glasses at the past. And despite the many wonderful Gloucestershire residents who welcome asylum seekers and refugees into our county today, we shouldn’t forget the ‘hostile environment’ for asylum seekers imposed by the Home Office and the minority of people who would rather close our borders to those in need.

Sue Oppenheimer