Charity Awards 2024

The Bike Project

Refurbishing unwanted bikes and donating them to refugees

The Bike Project refurbishes unwanted bikes and donates them to refugees and asylum seekers who cannot afford public transport. These bikes enable refugees to access essential resources and to be fitter, healthier and feel integrated into their local community.

Claiming asylum is a lengthy process that can take several years. While applications are reviewed, asylum seekers are denied permission to work and receive £37.75 per week for all needs except accommodation. Public transport in the UK is costly and refugees often describe social isolation as their biggest challenge.

The Bike Project finds cost-effective ways to get refugees cycling. Transport for London claims that 27,500 bikes are unwanted or abandoned in London every year. The Bike Project reclaims bikes, refurbishes them and donates them to refugees through a network of charity partners.

Its theory of change demonstrates that donating a bike to a refugee can result in them having improved finances, greater access to resources, and better physical and mental health. It estimates that in one week, each refugee saves £21.20 in London and £17.50 in the West Midlands. Some beneficiaries go on to work in the charity’s bicycle workshops.

The charity has steadily increased the number of bikes donated each year. In its first year it gave away 300 bikes, and it now donates over 1,500 annually across London and the West Midlands. In seven years, nearly 6,000 bicycles have been repurposed at a cost of £264 per beneficiary. The Bike Project is now looking to expand to nine more locations.

In 2020, the charity supported over 1,700 refugees and asylum seekers. In lieu of donation sessions, bikes were delivered directly to individuals and one-to-one follow up support was provided. Within two weeks of lockdown, the charity had launched Cyber Cyclists, an online programme offering training, fitness sessions, and signposting. It also increased its trading income from selling bikes.

Charity Awards judge Kris Murali described it as a “very positive project” which made a material difference in people’s lives.

“There are tangible results and benefits: it is addressing a particular problem of a particular community; the workshop model uses the skills of the people it is supporting, and it is easily transportable to other cities.”

CC Reg no. 1152354

Social care, advice and support category sponsor: