London has a rich history as a refuge for persecuted peoples, and that looks set to continue with Britain’s decision to accept increased numbers in light of the current refugee crisis. But the process of seeking asylum in the UK is a long one, during which time refugees are not able to work, and are instead given GBP 36 per week and provided with temporary housing often on the outskirts of the city. Public transport in the capital is prohibitively expensive, so The Bike Project is a charitable initiative that aims to provide refugees with second hand bicycles, as well as training them up with the skills to fix and maintain them.
Approximately 27,500 bikes are abandoned in London every year, and each one of those could save an asylum seeker up to GBP 20 per week on transport costs. The Bike Project is a community of refugees, mechanics and volunteers who fix up second hand bikes, which have been donated by the city’s residents. They encourage refugees to attend their regular bike repair workshops, in order to learn how to mend and maintain their new bike. The team also run cycling proficiency workshops, including weekly female-only ones.
The Bike Project are currently accepting donations of old bikes. They also offer an affordable bike repair service, the profits from which are reinvested into the charity. Are there other skills and tools that could be offered to refugees in this way?