We are planning to provide recycled secondhand bicycles, together with helmets, locks, lights and training, to refugees and asylum seekers in Norwich.
[Picture above: from a similar project at Bicycle Links three years ago]
Getting to an English class, or accessing a computer in the library, or volunteering, or joining a football club, all require transport. Daily tasks that we might take for granted, such a nipping to the shops or seeing friends, can be almost impossible for someone who has arrived in a new country with few possessions.
The weekly asylum allowance is just £36.95, which doesn't easily stretch to bus fares. Cycling is convenient and virtually free to do. It can get you to the city centre, or across town, at any time of day or night, and it can carry small children and baggage. All you need is a bike, and a little bit of training.
How does it work?
We're asking you to donate a bike, or a lock or a training class to asylum seekers and refugees referred by our partners. All you have to do is make a pledge and we'll do the rest.
If you pledge a bicycle, for instance, we'll make sure that your money goes directly to pay for a bicycle*. And you'll get a thank-you letter at the end of the campaign, with full details of how the money is spent.
The group running this campaign are:
- Bicycle Links - a social enterprise that recycles bikes;
- New Routes Integration, Norwich International Youth Project, English+, City of Sanctuary - local organisations that work with refugees and asylum seekers.
[Picture above: cycle training is available for all beneficiaries]
Norwich has a long history of welcoming people from other lands. There are around 150 asylum seekers dispersed to the city at any one time and Norwich currently hosts refugees and asylum seekers from over 40 countries. Many people choose to stay in Norwich once they receive their status as they find it a friendly and manageable city to put down roots in. In the next few years, the number of unaccompanied asylum seeking children hosted in Norwich will increase.
We want to be able to provide every asylum seeker and newly arrived refugee in Norwich with a fixed-up bike, safety lights and helmet, the skills to upkeep their own bike and, if needed, cycle proficiency training.
[Picture above: bicycles are fully checked and serviced before donation]
Help us to get Welcome Wheels moving forward! Every donation will go directly towards the items on our 'pledge' list. There are no administration charges because the team behind this project are volunteering their time and support.
Finally, some words from refugees and asylum seekers who we already work with:
“Cycling gives me more motivation and helps me to get around. Having a bike has made my life easier, if I have to be somewhere, I can bike there’
“Having a bike means I can exercise and save money. I can get to more places rather than stay at home”
“I cycle to football training but I don’t have the tools to fix my bike.”
“If I had money I would buy a bike. Otherwise I would like to build my dream bike.”
“My bike was stolen from my back garden. It wasn’t locked up.”
“Makes me feel happy because otherwise I sit at home. It gives me an independent feeling.”
*The organisers will endeavour to allocate pledged funds to the exact item listed, but reserve the right to use funds raised against alternative items on the list if necessary.
A huge thank you to Neon Peach Films (neonpeachfilms.com) for making the video and to Kirsty Newman for making the Welcome Wheels logo.