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

Book Review: A Beginner’s Guide to Acting English

December 1, 2016

If you’re looking for a Christmas present for someone or simply after some light reading, may I point you in the direction of Shappi Khorsandi’s touching childhood memoirs, A Beginner’s Guide to Acting English?  It’s not a new release (first published in 2009) but remains as relevant and insightful today as before.

Born in Tehran and moving to the UK when she was in pre-school, Shappi and her family ended up in the asylum system here.  A true story from the well known stand up comic, it is moving and poignant.  You get to see life in the UK as an immigrant through a child’s eyes.

It’s easy to read, yet Khorsandi doesn’t shy away from brutalities experienced by Iranians living under heavy religious rule.  Family love, political conflict, growing up bi-culturally.  Humorous and moving, this excellent book has it all.


You, Me and the Distance Between Us

October 28, 2016

Last night I had the privilege of watching again “You, Me and The Distance Between Us,” a production that was devised and performed by the very talented Ellen Muriel.  Ellen had spent some time in the past year volunteering in a number of places linked with the asylum journey: Lesbos, Calais and the Greek/Macedonian border.

An astute observer of people, she has used her Drama training to put together a very powerful and moving portrayal of the stories she heard; the volunteers she worked with; and the refugees she met.  It is not in any way a saccharin-coated portrayal.  She can be piercingly self critical, she questions motivations and she challenges preconceptions.  But underneath she tells the story of very real people, trying to make very real decisions and journeys and trying to be human in a world that is progressively ignoring them. She uses the medium of storytelling, singing, puppetry and silhouettes as ways to recount these various observations.  So much resonated with our work at GARAS and made me reflect again on our interaction with our clients and with each other and our motivation for being involved in this area of work.

I can thoroughly recommend it.  If you didn’t manage to catch it yourself, you still have a chance.  Ellen will be performing in Bristol on the 28th and 29th October in Hamilton House.  In the meantime, if you see it advertised in your area I recommend you take the opportunity to see it!


October Events Roundup

October 13, 2016

This month there are 2 events in support of GARAS which may be of interest to you.  The first, dancing to live devotional music by the Raga Babas, is on 22nd October in Stroud.  The second, “You, Me and the Distance Between Us” is a one-woman show (first shown at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer and currently touring Europe) which will be coming to Cheltenham on 25th and 26th October.  For more information on either of these events, please visit the Events page on our website, by clicking here.

Refugee Week – Tuesday

June 16, 2015

Did you happen to hear One-to-one this morning? On Radio 4?

It was an interview with a refugee who had made the journey from political prisoner to safety in the UK.

It got me thinking about our own journeys and why we make them. Have you ever had to leave your home? I don’t mean for holidays, or when its a positive decision. I am thinking about those decisions that are forced upon us by circumstances beyond our control. It might be fairly straightforward like lack of opportunities at home and the necessity to move to find work. It may be through domestic issues which are no longer manageable or it may be because it is no longer safe at home.

Whatever our reasons, it’s very challenging. Our lives are disrupted, we feel out of control, in unfamiliar settings. Maybe you remember the challenges of starting at University or a new job? We need to form new relationships and don’t know who we can trust. In our familiar places we are understood in new places the context has gone, how do we recover that? Do we have to explain ourselves all the time? How do we manage the new culture that we find ourselves in?

So what does that mean for those forced to leave everything, to uproot and flee? To start a new life again is a multiple of all those emotions and more.

May I encourage you to think about what that might mean? To stop and feel that challenge and to grasp a little of our shared humanity, and then reach out to welcome and to help to share a little of that burden.

Refugee Week Reflection #6

June 20, 2014

World Refugee Day – here are some facts: 51.2 million people have had to flee their homes.  17.9 million leaving their countries.  6.3 million have been living as refugees for many years. Where do they live?  Mostly next door.  For instance, of the 2.5 million from Afghanistan, 1.6 million live in Pakistan.  Ten years ago, 30% managed to get to safety in wealthy countries.  Today that has dropped to 14%.  So of that, we work with a minuscule number.  But I hope that what I have spoken of this week shows loud and clear that every single one of these is a human being with the same longings, cares and hopes as you and me.