What can you do to help?
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.
What can I do?
In view of the tragedies on the borders of Europe over the past few weeks, it is more apparent than ever that the response of many people is very caring and concerned. Thank you for all the emails, calls and donations. We are also frequently asked what can be done, so here are some suggestions:
1. Be informed – there is a lot of misinformation and lies told about asylum seekers and refugees and all who need to flee their home countries. And be happy to challenge that misinformation. (Tricky sometimes, but worth it.) (There are some links here on the website, scroll down to the bottom of the page. You may also like to check out this article from the Independent.)
2. Write – to your MP, the local press, the nationalpress, No 10 Downing St. Show them you care, show them there is another voice. (Again, as an example, look under ‘Online donations, support and campaigning’. Some of our volunteers are also part of these local groups: Global Justice and Amnesty inGlos/ Chelt and Stroud.)
Give your tins to FoodBank who feed the poor and destitute. Otherwise drop some off direct to GARAS. (For updated list of what kind of things are required check out ourwebsite.)
Learn a language – say hello to people in Arabic, for example. Test out your school French on people from West Africa. Make them feel welcome.
Donate a sleeping bag you no longer need or use, to a charity who give it to those in need.
Show some hospitality. Treat people to an afternoon tea in the Cotswolds, and let them show and serve you their Ethiopian coffee/ Indian chai.
Break the fast at the end of Ramadan days with Muslim friends.
Be normal. Be friendly. Be yourself. Give of your time.
Find out what people’s skills are and encourage them to use them. Ask that graphic designer to design you a poster; ask the photographer to take some photos. Don’t take advantage but let that person come alive.
Play cricket with the Afghan kids in the park.
Play football with the guys in the park.
Get involved in fostering. You may well meet some unaccompanied minors in need of some TLC, support and stability. Eg Community Foster Care, Fostering Matters.
Raise funds- do something sponsored.
Donate your unwanted furniture to help someone furnish their new house or flat.
Donate some of your unused materials/ threads/ sewing machines to the sewing project.
Give your old toys and children’s books to those without.
Invite people over on Christmas Day.
If you’re a hairdresser, offer free model cuts or reduced rates for those in need of a trim.
Do what you can. Be yourself. Do what only you can do. (Get in touch! We’d love to hear from you!)
Gloucestershire Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers (GARAS)
111 Barton Street
Telephone: 01452 550528
Fax: 01452 538903
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