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

The Waiting Game

February 23, 2021

For the past few weeks I have been waiting, waiting for some news. I was informed I should hear this week, but I am still waiting.

It is incredibly stressful, I check my inbox all the time. Never has my spam been checked so much ( just in case!). I am sleeping badly, I get up during the night and I worry.

But maybe today….

I am sure you have had similar experiences.

So what is it like to wait for years?

On Wednesday I spent time with a client who I had just told has his substantive interview in March. He has been waiting for this for 18 months! He cried gently in my office with relief that something was finally moving.

He has been through so many emotions over the past year or so. He has been frustrated and angry, he has not slept and has been questioning. And most of the times I have had no answers for him, except I am sorry, be patient, it will happen, you are not the only one, please don’t take it personally.

Now, finally he is starting the next part of his journey. This is not the final decision, there is still a long way to go. But he does now know he is in the system and he can start to make his voice count, he can start to explain, why him.

He is not alone, there are countless like him, playing the waiting game, watching and hoping, listening for the post, watching their inbox, hoping and praying. Some much longer than him. It teaches me a lesson in humility and of a remarkable courage.

And, hopefully, today, I will hear.

Adele

Oi be a Princess

December 4, 2020

“Oi be a Princess ” – the words of a young Gloucestershire child. A child growing up here in the county and learning about life and dreams and likes and dislikes.

The twang of the accent showing a real sense of living in this county.

Which goes to show that we can identify exactly as we wish. This child has only lived in the UK for a year and is settling in well. Making friends and finding their way.

It just goes to show the nonsense of racism and the pointlessness of it. As human beings we adapt to our circumstances and situations. We have the same hopes and dreams, the same desire to live and breathe and have our freedoms and safety.

So here is to all of us, however we identify, let’s ensure we give everyone else the same freedom.

Adele

In the footsteps of a footballer?

November 12, 2020

Hello

Would you like to follow in the footsteps of Gary Lineker and sign up to host a refugee in your home for a short or longer term placement? Please have a listen to this clip https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p08xgnz1 .

At GARAS, we enjoy working with Refugees at Home, a charity which offers hosting placements for homeless asylum seeker and refugee individuals. When someone has come to the end of their current housing situation for a variety of reasons, offering a Refugees at Home placement is another option for clients to choose, often when choices are limited. One or two take these up each year. If you live in Gloucester specifically, hosts are always welcome! Please take a look at their advice for more information, thank you.

Hannah

Yet Again – can you help?

November 2, 2020

Here we go again, back into Lockdown, back to life as we don’t want it to be.

Life with reduced human contact, and any sense of normality.

This has and is hard for everyone. Its particularly hard for those who wait for decisions to be made on their lives here, who wait for interviews or court dates.

Who don’t know when they can see their solicitor or even if they have one.

And who like many on the fringes of life, do not have the resources to get through this as easily as others.

One significant difference this time is that we have been able to put the Internet into all asylum homes in Gloucester and Cheltenham over the last few weeks so that increases their ability to communicate with others and to be able to have lessons on line or watch the football! (Just be normal!)

This was possible because we got a grant to cover this for six months, but in order to maintain that post February we would like to encourage sponsors – the cost per month per household is around £32 so we would love to have sponsors to help cover the 34 households who benefit from this support.

Over and above that we would like to be able to provide more clients with equipment to enable on line classes or therapy sessions. If you have a laptop or tablet with a camera that you are not using and would like to donate it to someone who could use it, we can really use them. We will clean them up and pass them on to those in greatest need.

Adele

how are you managing?

April 17, 2020

A year ago GARAS moved into our new premises and we found that change quite a significant disruption to our work, but here we are now dealing with probably, the biggest disruption any of us, have ever experienced.

The support of asylum seekers and refugees is extremely important to us so we have built a whole new way of working to make sure that our clients continue to get our help and know that they are not abandoned. These are kind of times we are very grateful to have many networks and partnerships and it seems that to many organisations and individuals are working so well together. There are areas of expertise, such as medical advice and information in a multitude of different languages that we are able to disseminate to our clients so they can read it in their mother tongue. That is thanks to the work of Doctors of The World, for instance, who have made this resource available to everyone.

That wider support offer is also local with various local initiatives going on that mean that together we can support each other.

There are, however, some areas where differences appear. It is at times like this that those with fewer means are more disadvantaged, one way specifically is in digital connectivity. So many of our connections that keep us coping are because we have access to the internet, but there are many who dont and one group who are specifically affected by this are asylum seekers in Asylum Support. So when trying to contemplate maintaining English support and education for children, or when trying to remain connected to enjoy many of the on-line opportunities they struggle to manage this. I am pleased to say that the Government is being made aware of this, but all of us can play our part in keeping on the pressure. It has been said that we are in this together – but its not quite true, is it?

So I wish you well and safety and please be assured GARAS is not shut, just functioning differently in case you come across anyone needing our support.

Adele