Every Wednesday morning JRS UK hosts Pedal Power, an initiative by The Bike Project, which encourages and teaches refugee women to cycle. Each training session, led by a team of all-female instructors, offers the opportunity to learn an invaluable skill as well as providing a much-needed support network.
One of our refugee friends, Mariam (name changed to protect identity), has recently joined the Pedal Power programme and was happy to share some of her experiences.
Before she started with The Bike Project, Mariam explained how she hadn’t cycled since she was ‘this small’, indicating a few feet off the floor. She was particularly struck by the amount of help and encouragement the instructors give when they teach. It was after one particular session, that Mariam excitedly exclaimed, “Before the woman was holding the seat, but now she is not!”.
As part of the overall course The Bike Project hold workshops on how to care for your bike and simple fixes. Miriam explains what she learnt from the workshop: “I know how to change the gears. You can forget some of the things that you’re taught, but if I see a bike again then I will remember.” These skills are very useful when the women receive their own bike to keep, use, and care for at the end of course. One of the biggest bonuses of keeping the bikes after the programme has finished is the ability to get around – to meet with your solicitor, to go to hospital appointments, and of course to come to organisations like JRS! – without having to spend the limited money you have access to on transport; that money can go towards other essential needs, like food or clothing.
“The Bike Project is very nice. It makes me very happy. There is a freedom on a bike, and it is very good exercise.”
After Mariam’s first week at Pedal Power she brought a friend along to join in as well, and she said that she would recommend to others. It is wonderful to see the community and friendship that is there in these sessions, and the confidence it builds in the women who take part.
FIND OUT MORE: Read more about the The Bike Project and JRS at the JRS Blog
For more information on how you can support The Bike Project visit their website