On Wednesday 19th February 2020, Bikes for Refugees gifted it’s 1000th bike to a refugee / asylum seeker in Glasgow.
Registered as a charity since April 2017, Bikes for Refugees (Scotland) has reached a significant landmark in its support to New Scots by gifting its 1000th bike donated by members of the public, universities, housing associations, Scotrail, Police Scotland and others. All bikes are repaired and refurbished by trained volunteers many of who are also refugees and asylum seekers.
Project founder Steven McCluskey highlights the benefits of access to bike for New Scots:
“Refugees and families arrive in Scotland having endured much trauma and hardship seeking safety and shelter from war, conflict, persecution, torture, and physical and sexual violence. Giving bikes to families sends out an important message of friendship and solidarity from the people of Scotland and says to people that you are welcome here.
A simple thing as the humble bicycle can and does transform lives. When you arrive in Scotland afraid and alone and uncertain of what the future may bring, having access to a bike is a simple but effective way of making connections and a great way to meet people and to make new friends. Bikes empower ‘New Scots’ to link with communities and essential services and provides freedom of movement and a cheap means of travel.
Our hard working and dedicated volunteers have now refurbished and distributed an incredible 1,000 bikes to refugees, families and children in the last three years helping families to connect with essential psychological and health services, work and volunteering opportunities, language lessons, college and school, and to meet new people and make new lasting friendships”
One of the projects long term supporters Mehdi believes that bikes and the Bikes for Refugees project help to make the world a brighter place:
“Bikes for Refugees tries to make the world a brighter place by welcoming New Scots with a bike to explore the city and lots of new places in Scotland. Bikes provide free travel and make it easier to travel to places like college and volunteering, and for those that are alone and have lost their families they help to meet new people and make new friends. It’s fun and healthy activity and when we give people a bike we invite them to our cycling group where you can meet many people from many different countries with people from Scotland.”
The first person to receive a bike from the project over three years ago, a newly arrived young refugee seeking shelter and safety from the conflict in Syria is now a trustee on the charities Board of Directors. He is in no doubt about the difference a bike has made to his life in Edinburgh and to other refugees and would like to encourage everyone to support the project.
“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. Please help us by donating a bike or by fundraising. Bikes can and do make a difference to peoples lives.”
If you are a New Scot you can request a bike via Bikes for Refugees here.
Find out about ways you can support the Bikes for Refugees project