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

Refugee Week events

June 21, 2016

Please keep an eye on the GARAS website for events taking place in Refugee Week.  These are being updated (please comment below or email the office if you have other events you wish to be advertised).  So far, these include/ have included:

Cake Sale 20 & 21 June – Cheltenham

A cake sale will be held at at the University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham on Monday 20th June 10:30 – 2pm at FCH Chapel and Tues 21st, 11am – 2pm at Elwes Reception, raising funds for GARAS during Refugee Week.

Vigil in Stroud

There will be a vigil for refugees at St Lawrence Church, Stroud on Monday 20th June at 7:30pm. 

Art Exhibition, Stroud

An Art Exhibition is being held in Stroud Sub Rooms, all week: Monday 20th to Saturday 25th June.

Arabic Music at Sub Rooms, Stroud

There will be music on the forecourt of the Sub Rooms in Stroud from 10am to 5pm on Saturday 25th June.

Film Night 26 June 2016 – Gloucester

A documentary about the making of Queens of Syria will be shown on Sunday 26th June at 8.30 pm at the Sherborne Cinema in Gloucester. Tickets are £5 each (popcorn is £1).  You can view a trailer here.

Adele Owen, our Director, will be there and give a short presentation prior to the screening.  Doors open at 8pm and there will be a retiring collection for GARAS.

The live show will open at the Young Vic in London in July, and run for a week before touring the UK.

Event round up

May 16, 2016

Open Garden – 11 June 2016

You are invited to an Open Garden in Staunton on Saturday 11th June 2016, 2-6pm.  Proceeds will be split evenly between GARAS and Freedom from Torture.  Please see the poster, share among your contacts and come along to Vine Farm, Malvern Rd, Staunton, GL19 3NZ.  Tickets are available on the door: £5 per person, under 10s go free.  This includes tea and cake.  (The event will be called off if it’s raining – tel 01452 840177.)

Film Night – 26 June 2016

A documentary about the making of Queens of Syria will be shown on Sunday 26th June at 8.30 pm at the Sherborne Cinema in Gloucester. Tickets are £5 each (popcorn is £1) and there will be a retiring collection for GARAS.

Adele Owen, our Director, will be there and give a short presentation prior to the screening.  Doors open at 8pm.  You can view a trailer here.

The live show will open at the Young Vic in London in July, and run for a week before touring the UK, so this is an exclusive screening!


The Film night will be shown during Refugee Week.  If you would like to organise an event: fundraising or otherwise during Refugee Week, please contact us and we can provide literature about GARAS and information about refugees and asylum seekers here.

Giving a hand-up at the start of a new life.

January 12, 2016

The following article was written by one of our Trustees, Simon Trapnell, for his parish magazine and shown here with permission:

In Gloucester recently I walked past Burtons and Marks and Spencers, saw books

published by Hamlyns in Waterstones and glimpsed premier league footballer Saido

Berahino in a newspaper in WH Smiths. I tell you this because Sir Montague Burton,

Michael Marks and Paul Hamlyn, who gave their names to their businesses, and

Burundian footballer Berahino share a common experience – they started their lives in the

UK as refugees.

[My wife] Carol and I spent some time over Christmas with a Syrian family of 5 who are refugees.

They are very grateful for being in Britain and for the opportunity to build a new future. But

we also were struck by how they are daunted and constantly worrying about family and

friends left behind in their shattered home city. They are torn between looking forward and

looking back. From smiles and spells of optimism for the future, they can quickly slip into

sadness and fear when they think about all they have been through.

The parents are desperate to build a future for their children and help them deal with their

experiences by giving them tangible hope. Simply put, they want to get back to a normal

family life with familiar routines and a sense of predictability. How precious a normal life is!

One of those routines, particularly for the parents, is work. The identity and status of many

people, refugees or not, are often tied to their profession. Those who have had to flee their

countries have lost their home, culture, language, friends and often family. Losing identity

and status are additional challenges that they have to overcome. It is really tough.

More than anything the father in this family wants to work, even if it is as a volunteer. But

like him, many refugees arrive with years of experience behind them yet find it very difficult

to move into work where they can contribute their wealth of expertise. Some have at least

basic English (a few have good English), and even if non- speakers on arrival here, most

are very keen to be independent as soon as possible. Regardless of their experience and

qualifications, most will at first look for jobs that need only limited English. Once they

become more fluent and feel able to offer their skills, refugees are very frustrated to

discover that many employers disregard qualifications and experience from overseas. As a

result, it takes them longer than it should to return to the job market. Employers miss out

too as refugees often come from countries that value hard work, learning and

independence more than in the UK. Plus, leaving your home, travelling somewhere

unknown, discovering how a different culture works and learning the language all demand

flexibility, persistence and a positive attitude – characteristics that are extremely valuable

in the workplace.
So, if you are an employer, or you work and would be prepared to talk to your managers,

could you see if it would be possible for a refugee to have a work or volunteering

opportunity to help them find their feet and move their lives forward? It does not

necessarily have to be paid work – refugees and asylum seekers desperately need work

experience and can make great volunteers too. They are invariably highly motivated to

learn skills and to gain experience.  But volunteering is not just of benefit to them – by

involving refugees and asylum seekers you can really help your organisation as they bring

unique skills and experience (some are highly skilled professionals), they can help you to

engage with the refugee communities, increase the diversity of your organisation, enhance

your awareness of other cultures and enable your organisation to make a really positive

response to an international crisis.

Many refugees lives have been greatly helped by donations of items  – a huge thank you

again to all those who so generously donated items to GARAS last year

– but could you also help with an offer of a work or volunteer opportunity? I feel sure that

Messrs Marks, Burton, Hamlyn and Berahino had people that helped them gain the

confidence and self-esteem to prove themselves, by offering them opportunities as well as

food or clothes or equipment.

One refugee said ‘When you arrive in the UK you are no-one. You are forced to work your

way up and prove yourself.’ It is no exaggeration to say that any opportunities you might

be able to provide would be a hand-up that could transform lives.

If you would like to find out more, please contact info@garas.org.uk .

Note:  In case you were not sure ….. An asylum seeker is someone who has asked the

British government for protection under international law and has not had a decision on

their case yet. A refugee is someone who has proven that they need protection under

international law and the government has granted them refugee status in Britain. There

are rules that affect what work and volunteering opportunities are allowed for each of these


Refugee Crisis – Fostering Support Needed

January 6, 2016

MPs are backing plans to bring 3000 children to the UK, who are unaccompanied minors in Europe. These children will need foster carers. If you are interested in being a foster carer, please go through the usual channels. Locally, that would be to Gloucestershire County Council or foster charities and agencies such as Community Foster Care and Fostering Matters. When you get in touch with them, you can say you are willing to support an unaccompanied asylum seeking child.

Listen again

September 7, 2015

To Adele, Director of GARAS being interviewed, along with one of our Syrian refugee clients, on BBC Radio Gloucestershire.  It comes just after the 8am news, about 67 minutes into the programme.