Transport is a key issue for asylum seekers and refugees so the gift of a bike can make a huge difference, helping to open up new opportunities and make life that little bit brighter.
Now, thanks to the efforts of Alex Simon, a volunteer working with the Penistone Asylum Seekers and Refugees Support Group and the Refugee Council, bikes are being donated, refurbished and distributed to asylum seekers and refugees all over Barnsley.
It all started when Alex, who is a pastoral mentor for young people in his day job, attended a meeting of the Penistone Asylum Seekers and Refugees Support Group. Someone reported that a refugee had requested a bike. Alex had a bike in the shed and offered his services. It started a trend and now over 50 bikes have been recycled. For each one, Alex does an assessment, repairs anything that needs repairing, then other volunteers transport the refurbished bikes to the Refugee Council who co-ordinate requests.
A lot of the donated bikes barely need any repairs, as Alex explains: “Some are brand new. Most need brakes adjusting, cleaning up and perhaps a puncture repair. We get all sorts – from mountain bikes to children’s bikes of all shapes and sizes.”
Alex has been impressed by people’s kindness: “I repair bikes in my street and as people go past, they see what I’m doing and they offer things like helmets and seats and all sorts. A lot of people round here have big hearts. A friend of mine who’s a teacher has been sharing what we’re doing in his area and acting as a co-ordinator passing on donations. Someone else from the Penistone Group who’s a great mechanic has been doing more serious repairs, tackling the major jobs. It’s great.”
Alex is glad to use his skills to make a difference: “I met one man who took a bike. It provided him with freedom to be able to go and visit his friends, which made life a bit better. It’s good for mental health as well as providing a means of getting about.”
Do you have a bike that you or your children no longer use?
Why not donate it to a good cause!
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