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
email: info@garas.org.uk

Adele Owen

Refugee Week events

June 13, 2019

Refugee Week is fast approaching, a week we can focus even more on the situations faced by asylum seekers and refugees and bring these more to the attention of us all.

This year we are combining events across the week with opportunities to tell a number of stories and to celebrate the welcome the Gloucestershire has made in the past at various times and now with the work of GARAS, World Cafe, Cheltenham Welcomes Refugees, Stroud Refugee Group and all those groups and individuals who make a difference. It was lovely to celebrate the 5th Birthday of World Cafe last Saturday at Brunswick Gardens.

There are a number of events coming up available to view here.

We hope you can join us at some of these events especially on the 18th June at St Mary de Crypt as we welcome Michael Zorek looking to the past for Kinder Transport children and how Gloucestershire continues to be a place today where children seek sanctuary from places of conflict and war and the part GARAS plays in their support, well being and integration.


The Power of Art

May 24, 2019

Last night I had the privilege of viewing the stunning watercolours of Derek Robertson currently on display at ‘Nature in Art’ at Twigworth, Gloucestershire. Derek has been studying and painting wildlife for many years, mostly concentrating on birds. His current exhibition extends his repertoire by incorporating the beauty of birds in their migration with the human stories of movement and migration. He vividly shows the human cost, having visited The Calais Jungle in its last days, Sicily and parts of the Middle East.

These are stunning works of art and very moving. It is always remarkable that art can tell a story to which words cannot do justice. At one point in his presentation to us yesterday evening, Derek talked of the image of migrating birds flying across the Mediterranean Sea, while below them human beings are in peril making journeys in dreadful conditions and unsure of their reception even if they get across safely.

His images combine his skills as a wildlife artist and his value of humanity, interplaying in a wonderful and challenging way.

I can thoroughly recommend a trip out as this has to be experienced for yourself. I expect you will be moved like I was and ask yourself those same questions – at a time of huge upheaval, what does it mean to share this planet and what does it mean to be human in times of turmoil?


Love not Hate

March 15, 2019

In view of the hideous incident in New Zealand and the hate that leads to such a terrible crime, I would like to double up our efforts to ensure that we succeed in our attempt to create a world record today in our Big Hug.

It may seem trivial to be promoting such an event at such a time, but surely it is only by standing shoulder to shoulder that we can say “enough”? Surely it is through recognising our common humanity that we can change the world?

So if you live in Gloucestershire and have a nationality that is not British and have ID to show that, please come and join us. Please help us send out a different message.


Moving Times

February 28, 2019

GARAS is on the move. By this time next month we will be getting set up in our new premises. It feels really disruptive and the challenge of sorting and packing and all the other matters is all time consuming. There are so many aspects to consider, so many contacts to cover.

And yet we are only moving five minutes away. We have been able to pop in and out of our new home. We are planning the changes that are needed and organising how we manage the move. We have a date in the diary, its in our hands.

So imagine what it is like when none of this is in your control. When you have never seen your new home, you don’t know what you will experience and how you will be welcomed. You don’t know where you you sleep at night. Control is removed.

It is extraordinary what people manage.

We have been welcoming some more families and it is important to us that we help get their new homes ready for them. It is always a delight to welcome them into their new homes. It is particularly good when we can help dreams become reality.

Yesterday a new family came. The eleven year old had been out of education and had expressed a desire just to have a desk. Their room was prepared with a bunk bed with desk attached. On seeing their new room they exclaimed ” now I can write poems again!”

Happy New Year

January 2, 2019

Here is to 2019 and whatever it may bring.

The year ended at this end with a client coming in having just received their status after 11 long years of waiting!

This year will have more situations like that, I am sure.

And this is the reality, the years of uncertainty, the fear of the past and an inability to plan for the future. This is in clear contrast to the images that started to raise their heads last week as it became apparent that a tiny number of people had managed to make their way across the Channel. The language being used and the views expressed were so shocking and so out of proportion to the reality, that it is important that we challenge such views as quickly as possible.

I suspect that as the year gets under way and other stories emerge this story will disappear and we will be caught up in the question of, “What happens on the 29th March?”.

We know, that for GARAS, this year will hold its own challenges and joys. We consider the future and our move, also in March, to new premises. More on that in the next few weeks.

And we will be celebrating 20 years of GARAS, there will be a number of really exciting events to mark this over the coming months so please look out for these and we will be keeping you informed.

Thank you for all your support as we move into these changing times.