Be-spoke service at JW3


Sometimes, the simplest ideas are the most effective, as Jem Stein proved with his bike scheme that collects unwanted bikes to be repaired and then donated to asylum seekers.

Mr Stein, 27, launched the project in March 2013 to help refugees in the UK gain access to vital services such as education, health-care and food charities. He was inspired by his time spent mentoring Darfur refugees at university.

He said: "When refugees come here they get £36 a week to live off and they're not allowed to work. That limbo period can last several years, and London transport is very expensive. Free bikes allow many to access services they need. Having a bike is the first step to normal living."

For Mitzvah Day he brought the project to JW3 where 17 donated bikes were repaired by him and his team of three mechanics, two of whom had received free bikes through the project.

Abdi Abukar, 20, arrived in the UK from Somalia a year ago. "I had no money and no financial support, so I went to a refugee centre and they sent me to this place to get a free bike. It helped me to get to college on the other side of London."

Resom Michael, 22, from Eritrea moved here four years ago. He said: "The bike was a great help to travel around London to look for jobs and go to my course."

Both Mr Abukar and Mr Michael volunteer regularly with The Bike Project and get paid work from the scheme as part of a repair service the project offers to cyclists.

Since 2013, the project has collected and given away 530 bikes. JW3 will continue to act as a bike collection point until the end of the year.

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