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

Post Office Syndrome

November 16, 2021

I was introduced to Post Office Syndrome on Friday by two asylum seekers.

This is their terminology for the experience of waiting for the post.

You never make a morning appointment because you don’t want to miss the post. Then you sit and wait trying to hear if anything will be delivered today.

If the postie walks past that is another day to wait.

If there is the sound of the letter box, then your heart goes thump, thump, thump in case there is something for you.

If there a letter addressed to you then your heart is jumping out of your chest – what does it say?

Is it finally a call for the interview you have been waiting for two years to attend? Is it a refusal? Is it the Home Office challenging a positive decision?

Or is it, just possibly, the delivery of your Biometric Residence Permit? The card you have been waiting so long for… the opportunity to start again.

Such a common experience, sadly. Such a powerful description.


Today is a significant day.

August 3, 2021

Seventy Years ago today the UK signed the Geneva Convention on the Rights of Refugees. In the aftermath of World War II, wanting to build a better world the Convention was written and the UK was one of the first signatories.

Over the years this has saved countless lives and here in Gloucestershire we have worked with so many people who have benefited because they have had their cases examined against the Convention and found to be in need of sanctuary.

Since GARAS started 22 years ago we have supported those seeking refuge from many different parts of the world, from Algeria to Zimbabwe – fleeing war and escaping from human right violations.

It is therefore a huge challenge to see this being undermined by the current legislation going through Parliament. The right to claim asylum is written into the Convention, but that is under threat. The right to be reunited with family is in the Convention, but that is being attacked.

So let us celebrate what has been achieved and work together to protect for those still needing to come. After all we never know – one day we might need to rely on the same Convention!


Refugee Week

June 15, 2021

It’s Refugee Week this week.

It seems odd that we have days/weeks/months dedicated to particular causes or situations.

After all, for those living with whatever the specific event is remembering it is probably a year long experience.

During June we also remember that it is Pride Month, and as I heard someone say yesterday, he is gay every day not just in June.

The same is true for refugees, the day and month is incidental for them. The situation they face every day remains a challenge.

They find themselves outside their home country for whatever reason, that hasn’t changed because of this week; they feel unsafe in their current situation – that doesn’t change this week, they have lost their previous employment – that doesn’t change because of the week.

So what is the point? These days and weeks are always for us, the observer. We need to remind ourselves that around the world for reasons of politics, war, faith and sexuality, people have had to up sticks and leave everything they know. We need to be informed, we need to challenge decisions made that can make a difference. We need to consider effects of cuts to Aid Budgets, we need to welcome those arriving here and be prepared to challenge Policies that will reduce our commitment to help those in need arriving here.

(In bizarre news – turns out today is Magna Carta Day as celebrated in Runnymede!)


The Euros

June 15, 2021

This week the ‘Euros’ begin: the football tournament kicks off, having been postponed from 2020. But for Europeans living in Britain, they have until the end of the month to apply for pre-settled or settled status, following our withdrawal from the European Union. If you are European and haven’t already applied for this, or know someone who may need to be reminded to do so, please would you encourage them to contact GARAS or Citizens Advice asap, before the 30 June 2021 deadline? Without doing so, loss of right to work, and difficulties secure housing and healthcare will ensue. Thank you.


The Waiting Game

February 23, 2021

For the past few weeks I have been waiting, waiting for some news. I was informed I should hear this week, but I am still waiting.

It is incredibly stressful, I check my inbox all the time. Never has my spam been checked so much ( just in case!). I am sleeping badly, I get up during the night and I worry.

But maybe today….

I am sure you have had similar experiences.

So what is it like to wait for years?

On Wednesday I spent time with a client who I had just told has his substantive interview in March. He has been waiting for this for 18 months! He cried gently in my office with relief that something was finally moving.

He has been through so many emotions over the past year or so. He has been frustrated and angry, he has not slept and has been questioning. And most of the times I have had no answers for him, except I am sorry, be patient, it will happen, you are not the only one, please don’t take it personally.

Now, finally he is starting the next part of his journey. This is not the final decision, there is still a long way to go. But he does now know he is in the system and he can start to make his voice count, he can start to explain, why him.

He is not alone, there are countless like him, playing the waiting game, watching and hoping, listening for the post, watching their inbox, hoping and praying. Some much longer than him. It teaches me a lesson in humility and of a remarkable courage.

And, hopefully, today, I will hear.