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

Campaign brewing

November 21, 2014

A bit like buses, we are quiet for a while and then we have a head of steam and produce another blog.

This is a little unusual because normally we do not discuss individual cases for obvious reasons, however we have been asked to on this occasion by the person himself.

There is an EU agreement called the Dublin Convention which simply put states that those people will be returned to the first country within the EU in which asylum was first sought. This is regularly used and we quite often see people returned to other parts of the EU.

But what happens if that in itself, is not safe? It is now recognised that it is not safe to be returned to Greece due to their human rights abuses of asylum seekers.

What if a country has no system to protect these most vulnerable individuals? What happens if you have been beaten up by the same people and hospitalised each time? What happens you are continuously threatened and your life is in danger? What happens if you are so familiar and well known by a particular group within a country there is no possibility of

You fled your home country due to the very real dangers there and in so doing find yourself out of the frying pan into the fire?

Given the very real evidence of the danger does it not seem reasonable then to find a way to by pass the Convention and just pay attention to the asylum claim which still needs to be examined..

And then, maybe this man can find the peace and security he so desperately needs. 

Shoe boxes for GARAS – working together

November 20, 2014

This morning I unloaded my jam packed car of 40 filled shoe boxes: the generous donation of people across Cheltenham.

shoe boxes

This was following an event held at the University of Gloucestershire for Inter Faith week.

People from a wide variety of faiths and none had come together to eat, share and create. Donations had been made for three different charities, of which we were one: of toiletries; food; scarves; hats; gloves; chocolate; all kind of little luxuries to cheer someone up. Then together people, sat and wrapped and filled their boxes and wrote cards for the recipients. The theme for the evening was compassion and each faith representative said a little bit about their own commitment to caring and kindness for others. The outpouring of this was very evident!

Now we can enjoy the fun part of passing this on to help our clients know that there are people in the UK who wish them well.

Thought of the Day

August 29, 2014

In the GARAS drop in centre, today I have had the privilege of discussing and debating the approaching Scottish Referendum with a Sudanese person, an Iranian and a Turk.
And it got me thinking.  Their wide experience and thoughtfulness helps give a much wider understanding of the whole situation than we may think when we think of a vote being held by a small number of individuals in a small country.

They looked at their own countries, South Sudan in particular, having recently gone through its own referendum for independence.  They considered the level of debate and interaction of the politicians.  They contemplated the low level of corruption and complete lack of violence.  We discussed the challenges of borders and implications of barriers and also a sense of own identity.

So, whatever we may think and however the vote goes on the 18th September, we can be very grateful that live in a land where such a massive issue and potential change for those involved can be conducted in the way it has been.

Helen Bamber 1925 – 2014

August 22, 2014

It seems appropriate that GARAS should acknowledge the death of Helen Bamber and all she strove to do throughout her life.

In 1945 she was one of those who went into Bergen-Belsen, where she worked to help alleviate the suffering of those survivors in the concentration camp.

She went on to be involved in the establishing part of Amnesty International, to found the Medical Foundation for Victims of Torture and latterly to start the Helen Bamber Foundation. Her lifelong commitment to helping those who have suffered at the hands of fellow human beings has been extraordinary and we salute her passing.

In 2009, we were privileged to hearing her speak at an event in Bristol and we came away inspired by her and all she had achieved and was continuing to do at a time when many of us would be ready to retire quietly and enjoy a well deserved rest.

The following has been stated by ILPA:

You will join with colleagues at the Helen Bamber Foundation and those working for human rights, for refugees and to help survivors of human rights abuses, many of them survivors themselves, in mourning Helen Bamber OBE and acknowledging the incredible gifts she gave tirelessly to all whose lives she touched. So many of us have been helped and inspired by her and seen the changes her work wrought in our clients’ lives. Her glamour and wit also brightened our world. An absolutely extraordinary woman has left us, but left us richer for the gifts she shared.

Obituary on Helen Bamber Foundation Website: http://www.helenbamber.org/

Memorial Fund https://www.justgiving.com/HelenBamberMemorialFund/

There is also an article on the BBC:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-28890331

Changing world with more refugees

June 20, 2014

For more information on current world refugee statistics, check out this BBC article.