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

Book Review: A Beginner’s Guide to Acting English

December 1, 2016

If you’re looking for a Christmas present for someone or simply after some light reading, may I point you in the direction of Shappi Khorsandi’s touching childhood memoirs, A Beginner’s Guide to Acting English?  It’s not a new release (first published in 2009) but remains as relevant and insightful today as before.

Born in Tehran and moving to the UK when she was in pre-school, Shappi and her family ended up in the asylum system here.  A true story from the well known stand up comic, it is moving and poignant.  You get to see life in the UK as an immigrant through a child’s eyes.

It’s easy to read, yet Khorsandi doesn’t shy away from brutalities experienced by Iranians living under heavy religious rule.  Family love, political conflict, growing up bi-culturally.  Humorous and moving, this excellent book has it all.


You, Me and the Distance Between Us

October 28, 2016

Last night I had the privilege of watching again “You, Me and The Distance Between Us,” a production that was devised and performed by the very talented Ellen Muriel.  Ellen had spent some time in the past year volunteering in a number of places linked with the asylum journey: Lesbos, Calais and the Greek/Macedonian border.

An astute observer of people, she has used her Drama training to put together a very powerful and moving portrayal of the stories she heard; the volunteers she worked with; and the refugees she met.  It is not in any way a saccharin-coated portrayal.  She can be piercingly self critical, she questions motivations and she challenges preconceptions.  But underneath she tells the story of very real people, trying to make very real decisions and journeys and trying to be human in a world that is progressively ignoring them. She uses the medium of storytelling, singing, puppetry and silhouettes as ways to recount these various observations.  So much resonated with our work at GARAS and made me reflect again on our interaction with our clients and with each other and our motivation for being involved in this area of work.

I can thoroughly recommend it.  If you didn’t manage to catch it yourself, you still have a chance.  Ellen will be performing in Bristol on the 28th and 29th October in Hamilton House.  In the meantime, if you see it advertised in your area I recommend you take the opportunity to see it!


Immigration Court Fees Petition

May 17, 2016

Please would you consider signing this petition, regarding fee increases for asylum seekers to take their cases to court? In our experience, the appeal process is crucial in terms of justice being done for asylum seekers, whose cases are often unfairly refused. A number of people are later granted Refugee status through the appeal system, which suggests that the Home Office have not made a correct initial decision. If people are priced out of it, they will be even more oppressed, left destitute and in an extremely vulnerable position. Please take a look and sign the petition.  (For more info, you can read this article in the Guardian.)

Theresa May

October 6, 2015

Whilst sorting all the very generous harvest donations today, given from Churches and schools across the county, the Home Secretary Theresa May has been speaking about making the system even harder for those who claim asylum here.  It doesn’t seem right to let this go by unnoticed.  You can read the Refugee Council’s response here

Where is the scariest place in the UK?

August 24, 2015

On a fortnightly basis many asylum seekers and others monitored for immigration purposes have to present to Immigration Officers to sign to show their compliance with their requirements under their claim.

For some this will involve going to an Immigration centre and for others a visit to a local police station is required and the Immigration Officers will be present to witness the signatures.

This is scary and takes emotional and physical resources to comply. Because you just never know. You just don’t know if today will be the day they pick you up to start removal proceedings. Today may be the day day they take you from your house and community and put you in a detention centre while they decide what happens next.

Today you may just be humiliated by someone with all the power and a row of witnesses all feeling vulnerable. This is not some kind of punishment for criminals just a form of humiliation for those who have requested a basic human right, the right to be safe.

This is not a short term fear but a fear that can be enacted many times over while waiting court cases and decision makers. And don’t make the mistake of missing your signing because it will come back to affect you in the future.

I have witnessed this fear, it is palpable, even the local police will avoid the signing session held at the police station as they find it uncomfortable.