Council Scheme Sees Abandoned Bikes Given to Refugees

Refurbished cycles distributed by West London Welcome

Leda (left) accepting her new bike from Cllr Rebecca Harvey

January 30, 2023

Refugees living in the borough of Hammersmith & Fulham are being given bikes as part of a scheme which refurbishes unused bicycles.

The initiative makes use of abandoned bikes found in the borough. They’re collected and given a makeover in partnership with H&F’s ‘Macbeth’ Adult Learning Centre.

They are being distributed through local refugee charity West London Welcome in a programme supported by the council.

The newly refurbished bikes will help refugees get around cheaply and easily as they build their new lives.

Leda, 23, is a regular at the H&F-based community centre and was overjoyed to receive a refurbished bike. “Thank you so much,” she said. “This is the first bike I’ve ever owned. I love the blue colour!”

Leda arrived in the borough after leaving Afghanistan one year ago with her family.

“These bikes will help more of our members to stay active and travel longer distances. People seeking asylum cannot afford to travel on bus or tube so bikes are ideal,” said Shepherd’s Bush local Sanne van den Bergh, 48.

She works as a caseworker and development coordinator at West London Welcome, a community centre for people seeking asylum, refugees and migrants who live in west London.

"So many of our members are keen to cycle – in fact, we have a long waiting list for bikes. We always encourage them to take part in the council’s training sessions first, so they’re as safe and confident as possible on their new rides.”

When asked about her road safety, Leda is confident and looking forward to exploring the borough by bike. “It’s going to be a lot easier for me to get from A to B now!” she says. “I’ve been taking cycling lessons. I feel ready.”

Cllr Rebecca Harvey, H&F Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion and Community Safety, said, “I’m so pleased that Leda now has her very own bike thanks to our new bike project.

"We want to support residents living in H&F and give people the opportunity to thrive. This new initiative does exactly that – it’s part of our commitment to create a safer, kinder and stronger borough for all.”

H&F Council offers weekly bike training sessions, free of charge to anyone who lives or works in the borough. Book a free training session and bike maintenance through Dr. Bike maintenance on the council’s website.

At the moment, the community centre is looking for bikes, for both adults and kids, as well as bike accessories such as helmets and locks.

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