An ongoing relationship between the social enterprise, Bikespace and Devon and Cornwall Refugee Support has provided people the freedom to get around; a means of exercise and a little bit of joy.
At the beginning of 2020 DCRS acquired some funding to rent out part of the Bikespace workshop for a new project one day a week to repair old bikes which would then be given to members of Plymouth’s asylum seekers community. The project ran for several months and during that time more than twenty bikes were repaired by Ronnei, a trained mechanic and Kurdish refugee, who helped to devise the programme with Suvi Rehell, project manager with DCRS at the time. Almost immediately, Suvi saw how the project was making a difference;
“I was going for a walk and I saw two guys cycling by the seaside and I knew that they had got their bikes from us. So, not only are they able to get to their appointments and college and where they want to be for free, but they could cycle to the seaside and get some fresh air and that made me very happy.”
And it worked out well for Ronnei too. Once the project with DCRS came to an end he was taken on at Bikespace. Now, after completing a course at the City College, he is once again working as a qualified mechanic in one of the city garages. As Suvi from DCRS confirms: Integration of refugees through sport is about more than sport.
Wheels keep turning: if you have a bike that you no longer require you might like to donate it to Bikespace.