The Bike Project, a Southwark charity giving free bicycles to London’s refugees and asylum seekers, has received £106,000 to help them integrate and improve access to key services.
City Bridge Trust, the City of London Corporation’s charitable funder, which gave money, says it will pay for new staff to help the charity expand after a spike in demand.
The Bike Project takes second-hand bikes, fixes them up in their workshops and gives them to London’s refugees, empowering and inspiring them to feel the freedom of their very own bike – perhaps for the first time in their lives.
Since starting in 2013, the organisation has donated over 5,500 bikes. But it has given out nearly 1,500 bikes this year alone and needs more staff to deal with the increase.
Asylum seekers and refugees are some of the most disadvantaged groups in London, and a lack of mobility can prevent them from accessing services they need to lead a new life.
The Bike Project reports that refugees and asylum seekers are accessing new and vital support services up to four times a week extra, thanks to their new transport. And the number that reported never accessing them halved after receiving a bike.
Dhruv Patel, chairman of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust Committee, said: “This charity is giving refugees and asylum seekers the resources needed to access key services as they stat their new lives in the UK.
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“Without access to transport, these people would struggle to fully integrate into society and become part of the community. This is a very innovative and unique charity, that has proven successful from the outset. It’s found a niche area for support and is really transforming lives.
“We are proud to partner with the Bike Project to tackle disadvantage and inequality in London. And we will continue to support charities in making the capital a better place in which to live.”
The Bike Project has a social enterprise arm that refurbishes second-hand bikes and sells them to the public to support its sustainability.
The protection and preservation of the environment, in particular saving bicycles from landfills and promoting reuse and recycling is another of the organisation’s key objectives.
Nicola Hill, national operations manager at The Bike Project, said: “This is a pivotal time of growth for The Bike Project as we experience greater demand for our services than ever before.
“This funding enables us to scale up our bike donations and volunteering opportunities so that we can reach more refugees than ever before, whilst growing our social enterprise to ensure our long-term sustainability.”
In 2016 City Bridge Trust awarded the Bike Project £40,000 to expand its online bike social enterprise. As a result of the grant, Bike Project hired a new staff member, improved its website and increased both turnover and profit. Bike Project went on to raise the social investment it needed from high net worth individuals.