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 – Day Three

June 22, 2016

Again the day has changed any attempt at providing the history lesson I had considered. Instead I feel inspired to talk about the amazing ways people care for others; some they know; some they are yet to meet. Over the past few weeks, we have seen a number of new arrivals of young people, arriving in very hazardous ways. On each occasion, others, who have been there before, have helped in a number of ways to provide interpreting and support. (& I have learnt how to make chai!)

As we prepare for more arrivals on the Syrian project, we have been ensuring that we prepare properly for them to be welcomed and the families who are already settling have offered to provide the first meals in order to help them on that exhausting first day.  Following a meeting with Foster Care, Social Workers we realised that a number of our previous clients are beginning to explore the possibility of helping in this field, wanting to give back a little of the love and care they have received.

And then there is the continuing extraordinary generosity from across Gloucestershire.  Someone has just delivered a brand new vacuum cleaner, and day by day people are providing for others with such an outpouring of love that belies the nastiness of the past few months of campaigning.

So I celebrate all that is good and caring in our community and hope that tomorrow does not take us down some dark divisive path.


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.

Right to Rent Campaign

January 13, 2016

Please take a look at our website and add your voice to ours, to call the Government to rethink its controversial ‘Right to Rent’ scheme, which we see will create housing problems and homelessness for Refugees.  You can find a template letter on the website.  Please personalise and use it.  The scheme is set to start in February, so time is running short!  Thanks.

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


October 30, 2015


You are welcome to attend a Knitathon on 14th November 2015 10am-3pm St Edwards Church Stow in aid of GARAS.

The pattern for the scarf

You will need 1 pair of 5mm knitting needles (old size 6) and balls of aran-weight knitting wool – different colours if you like.  (NB The majority of our clients are men, so you may like to choose masculine colours for the wool.)

To make the scarf in stocking stitch:
Cast on 50 stitches.  Row 1: K50. Row 2: P50
Continue alternating K and P rows until the garment measures ten inches.  Change to the second colour and continue until you have ten inches of this colour.  Continue in alternating ten-inch blocks of colour until the scarf measures about 5 feet.  Cast off.

To make the scarf in garter stitch:
Cast on 50 stitches.
Row 1 onwards: K50
When the garment measures ten inches, change to the second colour.  Continue in alternating ten-inch blocks of colour until the scarf measures about 5 feet. Cast off.