The Bike Project is a charity based in London, set up with one purpose: To take second-hand bikes, fix them up and donate them to refugees. “It’s simple!” They say on their website. Well, yes. It is also so much more. As well as recycling unwanted bikes and donating them, the Bike Project is also teaching practical skills, offering a volunteering opportunity to those who want to get involved, giving young people more freedom and confidence with every bike they donate and bringing together communities in a comfortable and comforting environment.
How did Dost get involved?
We first heard of The Bike Project nearly two years ago and since then, Dost has been taking small groups of young people there on a regular basis. So far, around 20 of the separated young people and young migrants we work with have benefited from a bicycle, a helmet, lights and bike lock.
Youth Work Programme Manager, Marian Spiers, who first discovered the project through twitter, says:
“I have been taking young people to the project for some time now, as it’s friendly and laid-back and provides a valuable resource. The young people enjoy the atmosphere and they get to learn new skills and meet new people as well as receiving a bike and accessories, which gives them freedom, saves them money and improves their health and lifestyle.”
What are the benefits?
Some of our young people have learned to cycle as a result of the project and it has been a great way for them to meet more new people from their countries, who have either been volunteering or have also been learning to fix bikes. One young person was even given the opportunity to go and help at corporate bike maintenance sessions! He was paid for his time and this, together with being able to give something back, has greatly increased his confidence. Another young person (aged 16) who had never ridden a bike before went home and practised all weekend after going along to the project and by the Sunday she texted Marian to say she was able to ride a bike by herself!
And it’s not a one way street. As a result of our working together, some of the Bike Project staff have also come along to our Youth Club to run cycle safety sessions and we collaborated on a Youth Fun Day last year, to help promote sport to young people.
Marian says, “It’s a great project and provides a safe, welcoming space to everyone who comes along. It’s a simple, easy to use service that promotes recycling and turning something unwanted into something that is useful and beneficial to many.”
The young people themselves say, “I enjoyed the bike project very much and I look forward to riding my bike!” and “It was fantastic!”