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Supporting Derby’s Refugee Community

Anila, a Derby-based refugee stands behind her bike in front of Life Cycle Derby. She is wearing a mask and looking straight at the camera

Our Derby-based Bike Kitchen was launched to help refugees access vital services and community activities by bike – and learn how to keep their bikes running smoothly.

As the disastrous effects of war and climate breakdown continue to displace people in the global south, we celebrate the city of Derby coming together to welcome asylum seekers and refugees. When asylum seekers arrive in Derby they are vulnerable, often traumatised and have very little. They are given a tiny stipend to live on (£39.63 per week) and are not allowed to work until the Government has granted them Refugee Status. Needless to say, these people face huge challenges in rebuilding their lives.

Luckily, there are wonderful charities in the city who support refugees with phones, accommodation, education and healthcare; providing the help they need to find mental health support, medical care, social activities and education such as English lessons that help them feel part of their new community.

We have the privilege of meeting members of this vibrant community every week at our Derby workshop through the projects we are delivering with the British Red Cross, thanks to funding from the National Lottery.

Local charities refer refugees and asylum seekers to us and we provide a free, refurbished bike, plus a helmet, lights, lock and a high vis jacket. They also receive a free cycle skills session from the team at Cycle Derby to ensure they can be safe and confident when riding on the road. 

Changing lives one bicycle at a time

Having a bike opens up the city to people who cannot get around easily due to a low income. It enables them to travel in a safe and affordable way to get children to school, access important appointments and manage other essential travel. We asked Alex Smith, the Red Cross’ Refugee Support Caseworker Coordinator in Derby, about the impact of our free bike scheme on the refugee community:

“One service user was desperate for a bike when the pandemic hit so he could safely take his children to school. Prior to Covid, he had taken his children on public transport but felt that continuing to use the bus was too much of a risk. Through this project, we managed to provide a bike to both of the children’s parents”.

“We do not have the funds to provide regular tickets for things like attending college, shopping or social activities… Providing a bike to someone gives them a huge amount of freedom to explore and settle into their local area which is incredibly important to people who have been displaced from their country of origin.” 

As Covid restrictions have lifted over the course of this year, our project has been able to run at full speed and we have provided over 50 refugees with bikes since January. Our project will continue to support the refugee community throughout the rest of the pandemic and beyond.

To empower refugees to keep these bikes running smoothly, we have also set up a weekly Bike Kitchen at the home of local charity, Derbyshire Refugee Solidarity. Here our professional mechanic provides free bike checks and teaches basic bike maintenance skills, enabling confidence and self-sufficiency.  The bikes we provide start out life as donations from generous people from across the city. We carefully refurbish and fully safety-check them, before matching them to their new owner. 

Support our work with refugees

This project is a fantastic example of organisations working together to bring their particular area of expertise to support some of the most marginalised and excluded people in our society. You can support us by donating a bike to our Derby workshop, or by donating funds via our Just Giving page.