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
Gloucester
GL1 4SQ

Telephone: 01452 550528
General enquiries: info@garas.org.uk
Administrative enquiries: admin@garas.org.uk
www.garas.org.uk

Director
Adele Owen

Ukraine

Alongside everyone, we watch with horror as the situation in Ukraine unfolds. We are keeping a watching brief on government announcements for clarity in any new resettlement scheme regarding refugees coming to the UK. As soon as we have more news, or ways in which local people can support Ukrainians coming to the UK, we will endeavour to update this website.

For the local response in Gloucester, please visit this page on the Gloucester County Council website.

If you would like to give a financial donation, we would recommend giving to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal. The DEC is a coalition of several charities and organisations with a lot of experience of working in similar situations, and with a large reach in the affected areas.

If you would like to register your home to host a Ukrainian family, please visit the government website: https://homesforukraine.campaign.gov.uk/. Alternatively, please visit Refugees at Home, a charity that has vast experience of hosting refugees, to find out more about offering your home through them.

If you are a Ukrainian seeking legal advice, we would direct you to this advice project: https://advice-ukraine.co.uk/

In the meantime, we continue our work with asylum seekers and refugees from conflict zones across the world who are now living in Gloucestershire.

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Houses for Afghan families

If you, or anyone you know, own a 2+ bedroom house for rent in Cirencester, and would consider housing an Afghan family, please get in touch (admin@garas.org.uk). GARAS runs a great housing management scheme: it’s guaranteed rent for the landlord, a home for a family, and GARAS are closely involved throughout the programme.

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Tragedy in the English Channel

Following the tragic events on Wednesday 24 November in the English Channel, we are reminded of the fragility of life for those fleeing their homelands and looking for safety. Please see this link for a well worded statement from Families Together that expresses our mutual reaction.

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Afghanistan Appeal

We are still accepting donations of larger furniture to help rehouse Afghan families allocated to Gloucestershire: please contact Jennie Watts (admin@garas.org.uk) with photos, and she will respond to let you know if we can make good use of it.

Unfortunately, due to a lack of storage space as well as the restrictions of Covid, we are unable to accept donations of clothing, bedding, cots etc. 

If you, or anyone who you know, has a 3+ bedroom house available to rent, we would be delighted to hear from you.  GARAS has an excellent housing management programme, which we have been running for several years: for more information please email Jennie Watts (admin@garas.org.uk) who will be pleased to speak with you.

If you would like to purchase a personal shopping trolley for a family, we desperately need several. Please drop these at our centre: The Trust Centre, Falkner Street, Gloucester, GL1 4SQ.

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Update on partnership working in Cheltenham

GARAS and CWR (Cheltenham Welcomes Refugees) have been amazed by the public’s response to the Afghan situation. It is wonderful and hopeful to see so many people wanting to help.

Whilst Afghan families will be coming to Cheltenham, we don’t yet know who they are or when they will arrive, or what they will need when they get here. It could be anything from clothes and age-appropriate toys, to bikes and school bags.

As mentioned above, we are unable to take donations of clothing and baby items.  Please see the bottom of this webpage for details of other organisations who we work in partnership with, where you can donate these items.  In Gloucester, GARAS has agreements with some second hand shops to provide clothing to those in need through agreed vouchers. This provides the individuals the opportunity to purchase what they are short of. We hope to do the same in Cheltenham.

GARAS are doing all the preparatory work locally with the councils and government. Properties have to be prepared to an agreed level and so second hand furniture is required. This can be offered through the normal recycling charities such as Furniture Bank or Emmaus, but items can be offered directly to GARAS. Please email admin@garas.org.uk with a photograph of the item on offer.

Another wonderful way to give is through the gift of supermarket vouchers. Again that provides the families the opportunity to purchase what they actually want or are looking for and increases dignity and choice.

On arrival, a family will want to be in touch with friends and family and this requires internet access.  Once they have a bank account and benefits coming in, they will be able to set up an account.  As a stop-gap solution, mobile data top-ups and mi-fi devices would be a great gift.

Laptops, tablets and smartphones in good condition are also very useful.

Thank you again for your desire to help.

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All They Will Call You

GARAS volunteer, Ian Parker-Dodd, has written a collection of poetry entitled All They Will Call You.  Ian says, “this book was inspired in the time that I spent helping teach unaccompanied migrant children at GARAS for the four years leading up to the pandemic.”  As well as the thought-provoking, and at times provocative, poems, there are additional prose contributions from others connected to GARAS.

The stunning front cover is a Derek Robertson painting, Children of the Clouds, and the book has been thoughtfully and beautifully produced.  Adele Owen, Director of GARAS, says “this is an inspirational book.  As I read some of the poems, I was transported afresh into the world and experience of others.  We are delighted and privileged to have worked alongside Ian over the years, and for this book to be one of the positive results of his work with us.”

All They Will Call You is available to buy from GARAS, at a cost of £10 per copy, with a voluntary donation of £1.50 to cover p&p.  All proceeds will go towards the work of GARAS.  If you would like to purchase a copy, please email admin@garas.org.uk.

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Green Impact Report

GARAS believes in the re-use, re-purposing and re-cycling of goods and services to support vulnerable clients from all over the globe as they regain independence, re-gain dignity, re-gain their lives and move forward.

We have a green commitment policy which includes the following:

  • we are part of the Fareshares food waste redistribution programme. FareShare is the UK’s national network of charitable food redistributors, fighting hunger whilst tackling food waste: https://fareshare.org.uk/
  • we help match items of furniture, bikes, household goods and other items to clients, which reduces the number of items going to landfill, as well as being of huge benefit to our clients
  • our outdoor space even has bug hotels!

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GEM – Going the Extra Mile

GARAS is proud to continue to be working in conjunction with GEM, with our marvellous member of the team, Sarah.  

The GEM Project is an employability and social inclusion programme, helping people in Gloucestershire to overcome challenges to employment and move them closer towards or into work.

It is a unique partnership of nearly 50 community based organisations, managed by Gloucestershire Gateway Trust on behalf of the lead organisation Gloucestershire County Council and is jointly funded by the National Lottery Community Fund and European Social Fund.

Individuals signed up to the GEM Project receive personalised one to one support from a Navigator Developer to help them achieve their career based goal, developing life skills, building confidence and self-esteem, whilst overcoming any barriers which prevented them from finding work previously.

The GEM Project has been operating since September 2016 and was initially due to end in December 2019. However, over the last three years, the project has continued to go from strength to strength, being recognised as an exemplar programme and has been awarded additional funding to run until the end of 2021.

For more information about the GEM Project visit www.glosgem.org

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Covid 19

GARAS’ drop in is still open (Monday, Wednesday, Friday 10am-4pm), but there are restrictions in place. Please wear a mask at all times when in the building and wash your hands when you arrive. If you know the phone number or email for your support worker, please contact them to ensure they will be there when you visit.

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Kinder Transport Anniversary Celebration

Here is a link to a You Tube video of the amazing event held at St Mary de Crypt on the 18th June 2019. This is an opportunity to here the speakers from that occasion and be moved by the various stories told that night.

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