Met Police and TfL team up with Hackney charity to donate unclaimed bikes to asylum seekers & refugees (+ video)

The Bike Project refurbishes bikes to help people start their new life in London

by Simon_MacMichael   April 3, 2013  

The Bike Project logo

Unclaimed bikes in the possession of the Metropolitan Police are to be donated to a Hackney-based charity which gives refurbished bikes to refugees and asylum seekers looking to build a new life in London, thereby giving them the means of travelling around their adopted home city to access essential services.

Under the initiative, which also has the backing of Transport for London (TfL), charity The Bike Project has already received 35 bicycles, which will today be security marked at its workshop as a way of publicly launching the partnership.

In this video from the charity, which also accepts donations of unwanted bikes from the public, some of the people it has already helped reveal their stories as they receive their new bikes, with some having fled persecution in their home countries.

On its website, The Bike Project says:

What we do

We are a team of volunteers working to refurbish second-hand bikes that have been donated to our project. These bikes are then given to destitute refugees and asylum seekers, facilitating them access to resources that can help lift them out of poverty. Additionally, we run a series of bike fixing workshops for anyone keen to volunteer, gain new skills and meet new people. We are a new project that welcomes dynamic new ideas and involvement.

Why we do it

Our vision is very simple. Asylum seekers come to this country with nothing: many have faced persecution and torture in their country of origin. When they get here, they are prevented from finding employment, and forced to live on a mere £35 a week in benefits. London is a city that is rich in opportunities. A bike can help these people reach the many resources that London has to offer: charities that can feed them, lawyers to aid their application process, Home Office appointments, healthcare, education and much more. If they are lucky enough to receive status, a bike can help them find employment.

There are so many bikes out there

So many people are fortunate enough to have old bicycles rotting in their garages that they will never need, nor get round to fixing up. This is a terrible waste, but with people’s kind donations, we can use these bikes to improve the quality of life of those so desperately in need.

Speaking of the donation of bikes from the Metropolitan Police and TfL, the charity’s founder and director, Jem Stein, commented: "A bike provides the first step into normal living for those who have faced persecution and atrocity.

“TfL's generous donation of 35 bikes will allow us to provide many more first steps."

Chief Superintendent Sultan Taylor of the Metropolitan Police’s Safer Transport Command added: “The Bike project is a great cause. There are thousands of bikes that through various circumstances are abandoned or unable to be returned to their owners.

“These bikes will really make a difference to a number of people in need.”

Siwan Hayward, TfL's Acting Director of Community Safety, Enforcement and Policing, commented: “This is a great new project and we are more than happy to support the charity as best we can.

"The sometimes unfortunate circumstances surrounding the unclaimed bikes held by the MPS can now be turned into a positive outcome for new owners who not only have a new way to get around the capital, but also have the opportunity to improve their health and enjoy the excellent cycle routes London has  to offer.”

10 user comments

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Amazing. What a great use for the unwanted bikes. Given how little money refugees and asylum seekers have to survive on when they get to this country, I think this is a great idea which will really help people out.

posted by neil b [4 posts]
3rd April 2013 - 9:36

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Cyclists and asylum seekers in one story? I'm surprised the Daily Mail hasn't picked up on it yet!

Sounds like a great project though, best of luck to them.

posted by thelimopit [118 posts]
3rd April 2013 - 10:37

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Yeah come to the UK not only will you get free healthcare, accommodation & welfare benefits we will chuck in a bike stolen from a UK taxpayer too. Not sure this is what Norman Tebbit meant when he suggested claimants should get on a bik to look for work. How long before UKIP & Mail pick up on this article? LOL Smile

posted by Monsieur Velo [18 posts]
3rd April 2013 - 10:43

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thelimopit wrote:
Cyclists and asylum seekers in one story? I'm surprised the Daily Mail hasn't picked up on it yet!

Sounds like a great project though, best of luck to them.

Im sure they are powering up the Headline Generator already.

They are just waiting for a white, middle class person to step out in front of a refugee riding a bike and all hell will break loose.

posted by Some Fella [717 posts]
3rd April 2013 - 10:45

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Ironic on:

So I can sell this picture to the Daily Mail
http://innercitymobility.blogspot.de/2012/09/canada-special-toronto-in-p... (second from bottom) and can get f*ing rich! (Oh boy, did she use f-words.)

Ironic off.

Actually a good idea to give new life to old bikes and having a bike surely helps to get around London. Smile Hopefully them come with free spare tubes, just thinking of all the potholes and a basic maintenance training for the user. Thinking

posted by Dr. Ko [109 posts]
3rd April 2013 - 11:07

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Old Abu Qatadas looking bit porky at the moment. Maybe we can sort him out with a bike. In fact I've just been offered financial support from HM Gov if I organise a sponsored charity ride to Jordan for him. I've heard its nice this time of year Wink

posted by Monsieur Velo [18 posts]
3rd April 2013 - 12:29

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Oh, nice. A little while ago I actually tried finding out how to get hold of stolen-recovered bikes (for a suitable donation), because I wanted to do something similar (with a little bit of fix-up-sell-on). No-one at the police could tell me.

And now they're just going to give them to people who are still asylum-seekers (and therefore not necessarily going to be granted asylum?) What about all the people already in the country who are struggling to make ends meet?

Boardman CX Team '14 | Cannondale CAAD8 '12 (written off, SMIDSY) | Scott Sportster '08

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posted by Gizmo_ [744 posts]
3rd April 2013 - 12:40

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Absolute joke how do you expect Johnny foreigner to ride a bike when wearing a big shirt and sandles....charity begins at home..

posted by merckxman [34 posts]
3rd April 2013 - 13:19

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Good idea, but agree with _Gizmo, surely it would be better to offer them to UK citizens/jobseekers firstly??

@rich22222

posted by rich22222 [106 posts]
3rd April 2013 - 15:32

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You really couldn't make it up could you!!!! Nerd

posted by vinnymarsden [3 posts]
3rd April 2013 - 17:52

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