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The Bike Project: Giving wheels to refugees

Joshua Low reports on The Bike Project, which will be organising a donation drive in South Oxford from January 4th – 18th, 2022 to collect, refurbish, and match unwanted bikes to refugees and asylum-seekers.

Social enterprise The Bike Project is on a mission to get refugees cycling across the UK. It is doing so by collecting unwanted and abandoned bikes, fixing them up in their workshop, and donating them to refugees and asylum-seekers who do not have the means or money to travel.  

According to the Project’s 2020 Impact Report, the gift of wheels can make a difference to the lives of refugees and asylum-seekers as it helps them complete essential trips, build friendships in local areas, gain a sense of normalcy, improve their physical and emotional wellbeing, and save transportation costs.

A bike would also be a valuable assistance to asylum-seekers because they often have to endure a protracted wait for an asylum decision from the Home Office. During this period they are prohibited to work and only given £39.63 of asylum support per week, amounting to £5.66 a day for food, sanitation, and clothing.

“Right now, the waiting list of refugees who need a bike is growing,” Charlotte Hu, the charity’s Digital Marketing Manager, told Cherwell. “If you’ve received a new bike for Christmas, or are doing a spring clean, why not donate your old bike to a great cause?”

Oxford Direct Services, the City Council’s entity responsible for removing abandoned and un-roadworthy bikes, removes around 400 – 1000 bicycles from public cycle racks every year.

Founded by Jem Stein, a social entrepreneur and qualified bike mechanic who grew up in the city of Oxford, The Bike Project also runs Bike Buddies, a programme that links volunteer cyclists with refugee newcomers to go on social rides together to help improve refugees’ cycling confidence and familiarity of the locality. People can sign up to become a Bike Buddy here.

Prospective bike donors living in Oxford are invited to first register their bike at thebikeproject.co.uk/donate. The organisers will then provide the full address (OX1 4LG) of the drop-off location. The donation drive will run from January 4th – 18th in the new year.

Image: The Bike Project

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