As well as saving bikes from landfill, something we’re passionate about here at Leeds Bike Mill is supporting people to get their own bike and to be confident on two wheels. For this reason we were thrilled to hear we had been successful in our recent application to Leeds Community Foundation’s Leeds Fund, to pilot a new project working with Refugees and Asylum Seekers.The project will involve us taking two groups of people through a 6-week programme of building up a bike and cycle training, and at the end, participants will get to keep the bike they have fixed. We know that getting a bike will mean an awful lot for the people who complete this course; bus travel in Leeds is prohibitively expense for most and we are often asked by organisations working with Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Leeds if we have any bikes we can donate.
The great thing about this programme is that it offers more than just the bike. Bike maintenance training is a really effective and empowering way to help people feel safer to cycle, because having the knowledge and skills to fix a problem means you can travel truly independently.
Last week our first group – women from Syria & Uganda – started the course. The course is going really well, from some women having never used a spanner, by the end of the first session, everyone had fixed a puncture, and most had trued wheels. This week we re-cabled brakes & replaced brake pads, then started our first riding on the road. By the end of the session all women were rolling up and down the road, and starting to gain in confidence. We can’t wait for the rest of the sessions to see how everyone’s skills & confidence develops!
We were especially keen to work with women refugees as they are one of the least represented groups at the Pedallers’ Arms drop-in workshops. We know that some women experience psychological or cultural barriers that prevent them from coming to a bike workshop. As an organisation where three of the four mechanics are women, Leeds Bike Mill are really keen to create a safe space where everyone can learn how to fix their own bike.
We are extremely grateful to Edinburgh Cycle Co-op and Cycle Leeds for their donation of helmets for participants of this course, as well as to The Bikes College for donating some bikes.
If you would also like to support the project, we are raising funds for safety accessories to enable all of the participants to leave fully equipped to cycle safely in Leeds. You can donate via paypal.me/leedsbikemill.
Leeds Bike Mill received a Leeds Fund #GiveLoveLeeds Grant to fund this project, thanks to support of the Fund’s Anchor Partner, John Lewis Leeds. Managed by Leeds Community Foundation, The Leeds Fund creates positive change in the communities of Leeds that need it most by distributing financial grants and support to community projects across the city.
Leeds Fund Anchor Partner