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
General enquiries: info@garas.org.uk
Administrative enquiries: admin@garas.org.uk
www.garas.org.uk

Director
Adele Owen

Here we go again

March 4, 2022

There will be wars and rumours of war.

Sadly this has been ever thus. In the relative short time GARAS has existed, nearly 23 years, we have seen how true this is.

Over those years we have worked with clients fleeing conflicts in Bosnia and Kosovo, Eritrea and Ethiopia, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. We support those affected by the wars in Iraq, Palestine, Sudan, Yemen, Syria and the constant affects of the fighting in Afghanistan.

Now it feels different again because it feels closer. But not for those caught up. For every single refugee from conflict there are so many, many losses. Everyone has to make the decision – do you leave or stay? And how long to wait before making the decision.

Who stays behind? If anyone?

Those who leave are those who can, those with resources to move. Maybe those who already have a passport. For those who can afford it a flight is more comfortable, but those choices may be taken away.

This can happen to any of us. One day we are at work and going home to our families the next it’s gone and all our comforts with it.

I have worked with refugee doctors, teachers, pastors, engineers, University lecturers, farmers, shop keepers and market stall holders. All their lives were thrown into disarray by the decisions of governments with no consideration for the individuals dreadfully affected.

All lives are precious and all have the right to be safe.

Let’s remember and support Ukraine. And while we do please let us remember these other countries as well and, sadly, so many more.

Adele

Tragedy in the English Channel

November 25, 2021

Following the tragic events on Wednesday 24 November in the English Channel, we are reminded of the fragility of life for those fleeing their homelands and looking for safety. Please see this link for a well worded statement from Families Together that expresses our mutual reaction.

Post Office Syndrome

November 16, 2021

I was introduced to Post Office Syndrome on Friday by two asylum seekers.

This is their terminology for the experience of waiting for the post.

You never make a morning appointment because you don’t want to miss the post. Then you sit and wait trying to hear if anything will be delivered today.

If the postie walks past that is another day to wait.

If there is the sound of the letter box, then your heart goes thump, thump, thump in case there is something for you.

If there a letter addressed to you then your heart is jumping out of your chest – what does it say?

Is it finally a call for the interview you have been waiting for two years to attend? Is it a refusal? Is it the Home Office challenging a positive decision?

Or is it, just possibly, the delivery of your Biometric Residence Permit? The card you have been waiting so long for… the opportunity to start again.

Such a common experience, sadly. Such a powerful description.

Adele

Today is a significant day.

August 3, 2021

Seventy Years ago today the UK signed the Geneva Convention on the Rights of Refugees. In the aftermath of World War II, wanting to build a better world the Convention was written and the UK was one of the first signatories.

Over the years this has saved countless lives and here in Gloucestershire we have worked with so many people who have benefited because they have had their cases examined against the Convention and found to be in need of sanctuary.

Since GARAS started 22 years ago we have supported those seeking refuge from many different parts of the world, from Algeria to Zimbabwe – fleeing war and escaping from human right violations.

It is therefore a huge challenge to see this being undermined by the current legislation going through Parliament. The right to claim asylum is written into the Convention, but that is under threat. The right to be reunited with family is in the Convention, but that is being attacked.

So let us celebrate what has been achieved and work together to protect for those still needing to come. After all we never know – one day we might need to rely on the same Convention!

Adele

Refugee Week

June 15, 2021

It’s Refugee Week this week.

It seems odd that we have days/weeks/months dedicated to particular causes or situations.

After all, for those living with whatever the specific event is remembering it is probably a year long experience.

During June we also remember that it is Pride Month, and as I heard someone say yesterday, he is gay every day not just in June.

The same is true for refugees, the day and month is incidental for them. The situation they face every day remains a challenge.

They find themselves outside their home country for whatever reason, that hasn’t changed because of this week; they feel unsafe in their current situation – that doesn’t change this week, they have lost their previous employment – that doesn’t change because of the week.

So what is the point? These days and weeks are always for us, the observer. We need to remind ourselves that around the world for reasons of politics, war, faith and sexuality, people have had to up sticks and leave everything they know. We need to be informed, we need to challenge decisions made that can make a difference. We need to consider effects of cuts to Aid Budgets, we need to welcome those arriving here and be prepared to challenge Policies that will reduce our commitment to help those in need arriving here.

(In bizarre news – turns out today is Magna Carta Day as celebrated in Runnymede!)

Adele