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

Pudding Night 14/10/15

September 24, 2015

We are very pleased to invite you along to our Pudding Evening fundraiser for GARAS, on Wednesday 14th October.  Once again, it will be generously hosted by Nature in Art.

Queen of puds … Emma was challenged to dispatch the best of the Pudding Club.Please bring along a pudding to share.  Tickets are £5, available from the GARAS office or on the door.  The ticket price is simply a bargain, as it includes entry to the galleries, including the 2015 British Wildlife Photography Awards exhibition.  (Doors to the galleries open at 7pm, with the Pudding Evening itself 7:30pm for 8pm.)

Perfect timing for Bake Off fans- the series will have just ended.  So come and enjoy, but let’s hope we don’t get too many soggy bottoms!

Here is a downloadable poster: garas poster pudding eve 15

What can you do? #33

September 21, 2015

Following on from our lists of ideas, of what you can do to help, here’s our latest offering:

Take a banner or poster along to a Rugby World Cup match saying ‘#Refugees Welcome’.

If you’re not going to one of the matches, why not take your printed message along to the fanzone in the Gloucester Docks?  You might get noticed by the ITV cameras there!

The next match at Kingsholm Stadium, Gloucester will be Japan v Scotland on Weds 23rd Sept at 2:30pm.

Playing for Calais

September 18, 2015

A week today, some friends will be #playingforCalais at the Frog and Fiddle in Cheltenham.  Doors open 7pm on Friday 25th Sept.  There will be live music and poetry, with proceeds going to Tearfund and Unicef’s Refugee Crisis Relief efforts.

For tickets (£3) please contact  jon.hyde@gmail.com or see their Facebook page.

“I’m willing to house a Refugee”

September 10, 2015

If you’re thinking this and wondering what to do next, please read on!

Thank you for all the continued emails and questions about how you can best support refugees and asylum seekers here. We are waiting to see how exactly the recent Government pledge to house 20, 000 Syrians from camp by 2020 will be worked out. But as things currently, stand, here are some ways you can be involved. Some practical steps you can take are as follows:

1) Rent out a room in your house to someone already in the UK with Refugee Status. (You are able to ask for rent money – if someone is claiming Housing Benefit, Gloucester City Council can pay maximum of £68.18 every week.)

2) Rent out a self contained property to someone already in the UK with Refugee Status: could be for an individual or a family. Again, you can accept Housing Benefit as payment. If you would like a local charity to manage this for you, get in touch with Chapter 1, and mention GARAS.

3) If you would like to rent a property out to proposed resettled Syrian families, again please get in touch*, and you may like to copy Chapter 1 into the email too.

4) If you would like to look after a child in your home (be it an unaccompanied minor who makes the perilous journey to the UK by themselves, or a proposed Syrian child George Osbourne has been speaking about housing), consider becoming a foster carer. Contact Gloucestershire Social Services on 01452 427531, or Community Foster Care.

5) Think about being willing to put up a family or individual with no support. This may be someone who has been through the asylum system, been refused and is destitute and currently in limbo, and experiencing a very difficult period.

6) Another way you can give in a similar fashion, is by renting out a room or property you have going spare to anyone who has need. In the past, we have had people doing this and giving us the rent! With which we were able to fund our psychotherapy service to provide trauma counselling to refugee and asylum seeking clients. Here is a standing order mandate form. Be creative!

If any of these apply to you, *please contact GARAS – info@garas.org.uk . Many thanks.

What can you do?

September 4, 2015

In view of the tragedies on the borders of Europe over the past few days, it is more apparent than ever that the response of many many people is very caring and concerned.

We have received many wonderful offers of help and expressions of frustration at an inability to oppose the rhetoric emanating from some of the press.  We are so pleased to have witnessed a change in the press this week, becoming more sympathetic.  However, much more needs to be done!  We are also frequently asked what can be done, so here are some suggestions:

1. Be informed there is a lot of misinformation and lies told about asylum seekers and refugees and all who need to flee their home countries.  (There are some links here on the GARAS website, scroll down to the bottom of the page.)
And be happy to challenge that misinformation. (Tricky sometimes, but worth it.)

2. Write – to your MP, the local press, the national press, Number 10.  Show them you care, show them there is another voice.  (Again, for an example, you may like to check out our website, under ‘Online donations, support and campaigning’.)

3. Offer time – it may be there are volunteering opportunities around. Or collections to go to those in need.  (Why not go to Calais?  Check out this local group on fb.)

4. Give – all the organisations that are supporting asylum seekers need financial support to keep that work going. That may be giving to your local organisation, like GARAS, so that we can help those here, it may be at a national level. It could be for organisations who are working with those in Calais, Greece, Hungary, Macedonia or Italy, or it could be to organisations such as the UNHCR, who are working with millions of refugees and displaced peoples in very dire situations.

You can also follow this blog.  As featured on here earlier this week, here’s a list of other suggestions of what you may like to do to help!  This particularly focuses on helping refugees and those who have already reached UK shores.

Employers – offer work experience, voluntary opportunities for asylum seekers and refugees. Befriend- go along to meals held at Brunswick Baptist (get in touch with them or us for more info)… Welcome the foreigner!!

Landlords- rent out rooms and flats to those on housing benefits, who don’t have a guarantor and can’t afford high fees to rent homes through letting agents.  Offer affordable, good quality accommodation. (An organisation who can help you manage this is Chapter 1– Tel 01452 412500, ask for Samantha and mention GARAS.)

Teach someone English.  Have someone round for a meal.

Visit people in hospital or who are unwell.

Help someone prepare for a job interview.

Donate your clothes to charity shops so people can snap up nice quality clothes for not much (or for free if they’re already volunteering in said shop!).

Write and record a song to get into the charts (a la Black Eyed Peas ‘Where is the love?’).

Get your famous friends on board to become our patrons and raise the profile and raise the fundraising stakes.

Contribute to billboard campaigns, such as ‘I am an immigrant‘ by JCWI.

Give your tins to FoodBank who feed the poor and destitute. Otherwise drop some off direct to GARAS. (For updated list of what kind of things are required check out our website.)

Learn a language – say hello to people in Arabic, for example. Test out your school French on people from West Africa.  Make them feel welcome.

Donate a sleeping bag you no longer need or use, to a charity who give it to those in need.

Show some hospitality. Treat people to an afternoon tea in the Cotswolds, and let them show and serve you their Ethiopian coffee/ Indian chai.

Break the fast at the end of Ramadan days with Muslim friends.

Be normal. Be friendly. Be yourself. Give of your time.

Find out what people’s skills are and encourage them to use them. Ask that graphic designer to design you a poster; ask the photographer to take some photos. Don’t take advantage but let that person come alive.

Play cricket with the Afghan kids in the park.

Play football with the guys in the park.

Get involved in fostering. You may well meet some unaccompanied minors in need of some TLC, support and stability. Eg Community Foster Care, Fostering Matters.

Raise funds- do something sponsored.

Donate your unwanted furniture to help someone furnish their new house or flat.

Donate some of your unused materials/ threads/ sewing machines to the sewing project.

Give your old toys and children’s books to those without.

Invite people over on Christmas Day.

If you’re a hairdresser, offer free model cuts or reduced rates for those in need of a trim.

Become a member of GARAS, where we’ll send you email updates and invitations to our AGM and other conferences.

Do what you can. Be yourself. Do what only you can do. (Get in touch! We’d love to hear from you!)