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

Traces of Survival

June 22, 2023

Loud noises make her jump.

So do sudden movements.

When she sees men in uniform,

She crosses the street.

I catch her staring at the walls sometimes.

If she looks away,

She’s back at the refugee camp,

Sitting on a dirt floor and praying

The wind doesn’t toss away the tyres

Holding down the roof of her tent.

We can all tell how much she

Hates being in the car,

How she can’t shower with the door closed,

How she refuses to take the public bus.

She eats as if every meal were her last,

Plucking crumbs from the table,

Wiping smears off the plate with stale bread,

Buying tonnes of food that will last her months –

“Just in case.”

She wears clothes that are plain and loose,

And she may not notice it, but she’ll disappear into

Herself whenever faced with something new,

Playing dumb and distant and confused.

She’d rather not speak

Than have people hear her accent;

She breathes quietly and checks every room

For emergency exits before she enters.

Every move she makes is carefully planned

Out, deliberate and cushioned and


I asked her why when we sat in the kitchen

One morning, drinking something warm and bitter

While it rained the stereotypically British way.

Her eyes were unfocused

That day and she didn’t reply, but now I know.

I understand:

The traces of

Survival are more than just the scars

On the knuckles of your hands.

 Amaal Fawzi

World Refugee Day – two worlds

June 22, 2023

I continue to contemplate the lives of those lost tragically at sea and the situations they faced and the language that is used to describe them.

Its World Refugee Day today and the theme that has been chosen for this year is Compassion.

How much Compassion are we seeing in recent legislation both here and across the world for those fleeing?

How much Compassion are we seeing in the use of language and the welcome provided?

How much Compassion is shown in the speed at which decisions maybe made?

The link here leads to a video on the Refugee Council Website that helps explain some of the effects of new legislation –

However, I am also very aware that there are incredible, compassionate people doing so much. From large NGO’S helping in disaster situations
and on the front line,to people offering kind words and giving their time to give English classes or a welcome to their communities.
I am always amazed by the generosity and compassion of people who continue to prove that the rhetoric, that may seem overwhelming, is not the only way.

Happy Refugee Day.


Thoughts on The Geneva Convention

June 21, 2023

When I think of Refugee Week I am reminded about how migration, the fluidity of human movement, and the evolution of human rights law have recognised the fundamental human desire to create community out of dire circumstances. Celebrating Refugee Week is not only a recognition of the bravery of the individuals we work with everyday at GARAS, it is also a celebration of the diverse and resilient communities that have emerged all over the world as the result of the formalisation of the asylum process in the early 20th century.

While the notion of refugees existed long before this, it is undoubted that the Geneva Conventions had a profound impact on a rapidly changing and dynamic international community that had seen the devastation of two World Wars. In the poignant language of the conventions the authors recognised the worth of a dignified human life, and its entitlement to live without fear of any state or non-state actor.

In an ever-increasingly hostile environment for refugees and asylum-seekers here in the UK, it would seem that this document and its remarkable words prove to be a grounding force, a reminder of the importance of protecting and fighting for those who suffer persecution. While in this period it is easy to be discouraged by the political aims of those who want to diminish the rights of refugees and asylum-seekers, it also has shown me just how committed those who support refugees and asylum seekers are to fostering a community out of hardship. It is the reality and responsibility of understanding that any one of us could become a refugee in our lifetime and perhaps if you look far enough, that maybe our own family or friends trees have grown from the sacrifice of leaving a home for safety.


What’s in a Week?

June 19, 2023

We mark specific days and weeks every year, from birthdays to commemorations, from celebrations to opportunities to raise awareness, and this week is Refugee Week.

What does that mean to you?

To me, it means another opportunity to contemplate what a refugee lives through, to celebrate what they contribute and to have more opportunities to explore what is the current situation.

This week launches in the backdrop of the awful drownings in the Mediterranean last week which once again focuses the mind of the awful journeys and risks that are taken to try to get to safety. And reminds me of the horrors they have already left behind.

As ever, it is in an important moment to remember that every refugee has already left so much behind and even if we never know who they were, they were once part of a community and of a family.

So a sombre start to the week.


A special Plea

March 8, 2023

Just twelve days ago we stood in silence in solidarity with our Ukrainian friends as we considered what they are living through at present. The response of the UK to welcoming Ukrainians and others has been remarkable.

And I believe that the majority of the British population also want to help others needing protection.

However, we need to be heard to say that. We need to ensure the voice is heard to counteract the assumption made by the Home Secretary that the stringent new law that this is what the public wants.

This morning she has commented that asylum seekers arriving this way are queue jumping – I am not sure how anyone is queue jumping when waiting in a broken system and waiting for years and years. All they are trying to do is to enter their asylum claim which, until now, they have been a liberty to do.

So I make a plea to everyone who feels that this legislation is wrong to write and tell your MP, unless we do they will continue to believe the only relevant voice in this is the extreme quoted.

If you want ideas of what to say please do email GARAS we have some suggestions of topics.