Leeds Bike Mill is a not-for-profit community Bike Recycling and Training cooperative that runs a project called “Fix it to Ride”. They host weekly sessions where local volunteers learn to service bikes, which are then donated to asylum seekers and refugees. They are the only project in Leeds that offers such a service, which makes a huge difference to how asylum seekers and refugees can navigate their new city.
The asylum seekers the project supports are often living on £39.63 per week, whilst others have no recourse to public funds at all. They are often housed on the outskirts of the city, and a weekly bus pass in Leeds costs £15.50, which presents a significant barrier to their mobility. With a free bike from the project and access to a workshop and the expertise of mechanics, beneficiaries have a long-term affordable mode of transport, and the ability to keep it on the road. This increases their autonomy and enables them to better access services, appointments, and community activities. In addition, a bike offers our beneficiaries a free method of recreation and exercise and the mental and physical health benefits that these bring.
The project also makes a positive difference to the environment by servicing used bikes that have been discarded or donated and stripping unusable bikes to salvage good quality second-hand components.
Funds will be used to continue the Fix it to Ride project, servicing bikes for asylum seekers and running weekly volunteer sessions. As well as servicing the bikes, the project gives each asylum seeker a new lock and set of lights, and offers a helmet along with their bike.
Mussie (pictured), who received a bike from Leeds Bike Mill said, ‘Thank you, Leeds Bike Mill! You guys gave me the best gift during my stay as an asylum seeker. I am experiencing the three best things while I am riding the bike you gave me – 1) exercising, 2) pleasure and 3) being where I want to be at the same time.’
Bike recipients are referred to the service by organisations working with as refugees and asylum seekers such as the local council, the NHS, Care4Calais, PAFRAS (Positive Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers) and the Refugee Council.
“We are so grateful and enthused to hear we’ve been shortlisted as a finalist. As a small organisation of just 6 part time staff, we are limited in our capacity to seek grants, and this funding from Matthew Good Foundation will enable us to keep meeting demand for our much needed Fix it to Ride project. We receive weekly requests from local refugee support organisations, demonstrating the very high demand for the project. A previous recipient of a bike said “I can’t explain in words how grateful I am, this will make such a huge difference to me – saving time and saving money”. Another explained “I use my bike for everything – everywhere I go I need a bike, so it’s very important to me”. We can’t wait to keep providing this service to as many vulnerable people as possible, thanks to your support.”
“The bikes provided by the Fix it to Ride project are a real lifeline for those receiving them. As they adapt to life in the UK, attend English classes, school and work opportunities are often not within walking distance and so it’s not easy to connect, make friends and find employment. A bike provides the opportunity to travel to where they need to be for free, provides a method of exercising and no cost and creates social opportunities (especially for children). This project responds to a real need and makes a huge different to people’s lives in many ways.”
Latest Project Updates
After becoming one of the top five finalists in the latest Grants for Good Round, £1,000 was granted.