Humanitarian initiative The Bike Project has been awarded a £40,000 grant by The City of London Corporation’s charitable funder, City Bridge Trust, and UBS.
The grant is part of City Bridge Trust’s Stepping Stones Fund, which helps charities and social enterprises in London access the social investment market. The latest round of grants has seen a total of £700,000 awarded to 17 organisations.
The south London-based Bike Project – set up four years ago by 29-year-old Jem Stein – aims to get refugees on bikes to help them become better integrated into their communities. 13,500 asylum seekers flee to London every year, while 27,500 bikes are abandoned over the same time period. Stein intends to use the funding to employ more bike mechanics to support the venture, which collects and refurbishes second-hand bikes and donates them to refugees and asylum-seekers in London.
Since the project's launch in 2013, refugees and volunteers work on second-hand bikes at the workshop every Thursday. They also run a project to teach refugee women to cycle from scratch and work closely with children's charities to provide bikes and cycling training for children.
Working with refugees as a student at LSE and later as a youth worker, Stein was inspired to set up the project after noting that public transport costs could be prohibitive to refugees' abilities to integrate into their communities and access resources.
“I felt London was awash with abandoned and disused bikes," says Stein. "My vision was to match the two: refurbish bikes for refugees in London. Since the launch in March 2013, we have provided over 1,800 bikes to refugees in London. A bike allows a refugee to access essential services including education, healthcare, basic amenities and psychological support.
“'The Stepping Stones grant is huge boost to our long-term goal of being financially sustainable and independent. It is very hard to find funders who are willing to support this type of work so we are extremely grateful that UBS and City Bridge Trust are so forward-thinking. Most importantly, it is a huge boost to the many thousands of refugees who will ultimately benefit from their foresight.”
David Farnsworth, chief grants officer at City Bridge Trust, commented: “City Bridge Trust is committed to supporting Londoners to make the city a fairer place to work and live. This project is helping thousands of refugees every year and allowing them better access to the basic amenities that are essential to living. The funding will help them expand the project and continue to enhance the lives of many. We are thrilled that we are already helping so many projects through the fund.”
"The demand on the Fund measured by applications received highlights the continued need within the charity and voluntary sector for its existence," said Nick Wright, managing director of corporate responsibility and community affairs at UBS, added: "UBS is pleased to be supporting grantees not just through the provision of much-needed capital but also the skills and expertise of UBS volunteers. We look forward to continuing to develop this nascent market and to help bridge the funding gap for charities preparing for social investment."