#TogetherWeCan, Bikes for Refugees

This Challenge Poverty week, Corra is sharing stories from Henry Duncan Grant funded charities. Challenge Poverty week is an opportunity to change the conversation about poverty, end the stigma and show support for solutions. Find out more at: https://www.challengepoverty.net/


Bikes for Refugees (Scotland) SCIO is a grassroots community project that has been refurbishing and distributing donated bikes free to New Scots (asylum seekers and refugees) since April 2017. We recently reached a significant milestone with our 1,000th person supported- this being a 1,000 bikes donated by communities and members of the public; and a 1,000 bikes repaired and refurbished by our hard working and skilled volunteers, many of whom are also asylum seekers and refugees.

Asylum seekers and refugees are recognised as being some of the most isolated and socio-economically disadvantaged of community groups. Asylum seekers/refugees have been particularly effected by the coronavirus pandemic with increased isolation and barriers to accessing services and supports alongside extreme economic hardship and food insecurity. During this period we were able to successfully pivot our service to delivering essential emergency aid to our community in response to presenting needs such as food insecurity and isolation. In the three to four months of lockdown we raised and distributed over £65k of Covid-19 relief aid in the form of free food parcels, supermarket vouchers, phones and phone top-ups.

Bikes provide freedom of movement and a free means of travel empowering isolated and socio-economically disadvantaged families to connect with communities; essential services, and to meet new people and forge new friendships and social networks. People tell us that they use bikes that we provide as a free means of travel to attend essential meetings; health appointments; language classes; school, college/university; and to access volunteering and work opportunities. Cycling also has proven physical and mental health benefits particularly amongst families who have experienced trauma and psychological distress, and who experience mental health difficulties.

My bike helped me when I first came to Scotland to make my new home here when I didn’t know anyone or where to go. Asylum seekers have only very limited funds available so having a bike can help people like me access employment and their community. I use my bike all the time to get around the city from my home to my work and to my college and to volunteer for projects-  for lots of journeys, even shopping, I use my bike.(Yaman)

The link with Bikes for Refugees has been a really helpful resource for Multi-Cultural Family Base (MCFB) in our work with Syrian refugee families. It has enabled most of the children in our children’s group to access bikes and this has given them an opportunity to explore their local areas in a new way.  The bikes have built their confidence and with some children given them a new skill.  The bikes provide them with opportunities to make better friendships with local children as they now have a shared activity they can take part in. In our group we have undertaken several biking activities with an outdoor provider and being able to provide the children with bikes has been a real complementary resource.  We have found Bikes for Refugees to be a very flexible organisation to work with and they have a good understanding of the needs of refugee families”.  (Multi-Cultural Family Base)

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