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

What can I do? – Some more ideas

September 1, 2015

Following on from Friday’s post, here are a few more ideas of what you can do to help those in need here, who have been through so much:

What can you do?

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.

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


September 1, 2015

“I have no money except a state pension but I feel I can keep silent no longer.

The way we treat refugees is a disgrace and I would like to do something.”

On Thursday 3rd September 2015 at 3pm, we will host a conference at GARAS entitled,
“InHumanE Rights? What is happening in Asylum?”
Our main speaker will be Dr Nick Gill from the University of Exeter. He will present on ‘Inhumanity in our time: Perspectives on border control and asylum in Britain’. There will then be some updates on immigration policy changes from the GARAS team and tea and cake afterwards. If you’d like to come, please RSVP to info@garas.org.uk .
In the week leading up to this, we’ll be posting snippets from emails into the GARAS inbox, showing some more of the positive, caring, compassionate response to the migrant crisis well documented in the press. All emails have been received in the past month.

Christmas shopping – donations

November 24, 2014

When doing your online Christmas, or other, shopping from major retailers, why not donate to GARAS in the process?  At no additional cost to yourself, you can register at easy fundraising with the proceeds to go to GARAS and then click on every time you make subsequent purchases.  It couldn’t be simpler.  So far we have raised over £100 for GARAS.  Please help us get even more, as we work with vulnerable asylum seekers, refugees and other migrants in Gloucestershire.

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.