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

Build bridges, tear down walls

January 27, 2017

In November 1989 I watched, with joy, as people pulled together to bring down the Berlin Wall that divided East and West Germany. The world’s reaction was of satisfaction that things could be changed and the process of reunification began. It wasn’t straight forward, but together Germany worked to make it work.

In 1993 the Bridge in Mostar was destroyed by the Bosnian Croatian army as a way to divide the people, emblematic of creating division and stopping the interaction that had been happening for hundreds of years. So significant was the bridge it was rebuilt in July 2004.

And yet here we are listening to a world leader committing to build huge walls and to insinuate differences in very real and frightening ways.

In the early 1930’s, lists were published in German cities of shops and businesses run by Jews ordering people not to do business with them. Lists of crimes committed by immigrants; anti-Muslim rhetoric; reintroduce torture; the possibility of a register of Muslims; reducing women’s rights; removing LGBT rights… So how do we react? What if the citizens of Germany had refused to change their shopping habits and continued to support the Jewish community in that way? What if everyone had taken to wearing Stars?

So what are we do? We always have to start right in our homes and communities. We have to maintain relationships and rebuild where necessary. And we have to recognise in each other that which unites us rather than what divides. Talk to each other, eat together, laugh and cry together. One thing I have learnt above everything else in my life at GARAS is we have a common humanity of love and care for our families and when we sit down to eat together, we learn so much.

This may appear to be a series of random thoughts, if so I’m sorry. But maybe as we watch and listen to the unfolding news and become depressed about it we have to take positive, caring action to help make things better and to do our bit to keep the world as safe as possible.