Get on your bike and help refugees onto their own two wheels

The Bike Project refurbishes unwanted second-hand bikes for refugees – and you can help by putting in the miles for Refugee Routes

Refugee Routes cyclists prepare to hit the road
(Image credit: The Bike Project )

If you’re clicking on Cycling Weekly, chances are you love getting in the saddle. You can put your miles on the road to good use by taking part in The Bike Project’s Refugee Routes challenge, helping refugees to get a bike of their own.

This "build-your-own" cycling challenge is versatile enough to fit around your own fitness level and ability. Your objective is simple – ride a distance equivalent to journeys made by refugees on a common migration routes, and fundraise as you go. All proceeds will help more refugees and asylum seekers get newly refurbished bikes.

A challenge that fits around you

There are five distances to choose from, all based on routes frequently travelled by refugees around the world: 51 miles from Calais and Dover, 160 miles from Izmir to Athens, 301 miles from Zarzis to Pozzalo, 918 miles from Damascus to Izmir, or 1996 miles from Mariupol to London. Alternatively, you can choose to set your own distance.

Whether you want to build up the miles gradually or complete a single epic bike ride is entirely up to you – you can even add to your total distance on your daily commute, or on a stationary bike at the gym. You can also choose between taking on the challenge solo, or as part of a team, whether it’s friends, family, work colleagues or people you train with at the gym.

As you clock up miles on the road in solidarity with refugees, you’ll get email updates in your inbox telling you about a refugee’s journey on the equivalent, real-life route.

“Participating in Refugee Routes does good for others, as well as for oneself,” says Refugee Routes fundraiser Vanessa. “It’s a win-win.”

Refugee Routes cyclists with their medals

(Image credit: The Bike Project)

How The Bike Project helps refugees

How do your cycling exploits on the Refugee Routes challenge convert into bikes for refugees? As this mission statement (opens in new tab) explains, The Bike Project collects unwanted bikes, refurbishes them in their workshops, and then delivers them to refugees and asylum seekers in London and Birmingham. 

The charity also runs important community programmes: Pedal Power (opens in new tab), for example, provides free one-to-one cycling lessons for women (led by women cycling instructors), while Bike Buddies (opens in new tab) matches refugees with volunteer cycling partners –  TV presenter Clare Balding and actor David Morrissey have both taken part in the scheme.

Every £100 raised on the challenge gets a bike to another refugee on The Bike Project’s waiting list, and that’s more important now than ever. While The Bike Project has given almost 10,000 bikes to refugees and asylum seekers across the UK, the waiting list is getting longer, a situation exacerbated by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

It’s impossible to overstate how important a bike can be for a refugee trying to make a home in the UK. Asylum seekers are prohibited from working, and have to live on just £39.63 a week while their applications are being processed. But in a country where the cost of living is as high as it is in the UK, there isn’t much left over to cover bus fares once food and other essentials are taken care of.

That’s where The Bike Project comes in. Giving an asylum seeker their own two wheels provides easier access to food banks, healthcare, education, legal advice and much more. And if they’re lucky enough to be given official refugee status, they can then use their bike to help them find employment.

As Naomi, another Refugee Routes fundraiser, explains, “The Bike Project is a simple idea that can transform refugees’ lives by giving them affordable transport at a time when they have no spare money for day-to-day travel expenses.”

Refugee Routes cyclists take a break

(Image credit: The Bike Project)

Sign up now! (opens in new tab)

Whether you want to assemble an elite team of cycling buddies or hit the road alone, you can sign up now (opens in new tab) to take part in Refugee Routes. You’ll receive a fundraising pack, support, and advice from The Bike Project’s fundraising team. You can also expect inspiration from the wider Refugee Routes community.

As an added bonus, every Cycling Weekly sign-up will receive a free The Bike Project cycling cap – simply email to redeem.

And remember, this is a challenge with the flexibility to fit around you. As well as helping refugees find a home in the UK – take a look at the impact Refugee Routes is making (opens in new tab) – supporting Refugee Routes also brings plenty of benefits to you, whether it’s improving your fitness or having fun with friends and family.

“Cycling is a really affordable and fun way to get to know where you live better,” says Refugee Routes fundraiser Felicity. “Doing something for a great cause? Why not?”

Sign up to Refugee Routes and start your challenge. 

Refugee Routes cyclists pause for a selfie

(Image credit: The Bike Project)

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