A collaborative bike project has donated 200 bikes to refugees and asylum seekers across Oxfordshire.

The Sanctuary Wheels team – comprised of Cyclox, Active Oxfordshire and Asylum Welcome – handed over the 200th bike to Oxfordshire-based refugees this month.

The project has been kept afloat so far by Oxfordshire residents making donations that help to boost morale and freedom of transport to the refugees living in the community.

The Sanctuary Wheels group has now provided over 200 refurbished bikes and signposted tuition to the refugees based in the county, including a Ukrainian named Max.

Max grew up in eastern Ukraine and lived for a time in Kiev. In April 2022 he went to Poland to help a disabled man who needed support with travelling and translation.

From there, he applied to come to England through the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.

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Max now lives with a host family in Kidlington. He received a bike through Sanctuary Wheels, and uses the bike to go to church, to local libraries, to language cafe clubs and to see friends in Abingdon.

He said: “For me, having a bike is about freedom and independence. It means I can save money and enjoy exercise which is good for my health.

“It helps me get to know my new city and local area, to be ready for meetings or go to interesting events.

“All of this becomes much easier when you have a bike. Thank you.”

Chief Executive of Active Oxfordshire Josh Lenthall said: “This is a huge milestone to reach and we’re extremely grateful to everyone who has given up their time, donated bikes or contributed to our fundraising campaign to make this happen.

“Thanks to the phenomenal efforts of Cyclox, partners and donors, more than 200 refugees can now feel more independent, visit their friends and become more connected in their new communities.”

Asylum Welcome said: “Bikes can be a lifeline for those asylum seekers who are accommodates in hotels or shared houses in more remote parts of the county.

“Living on a budget of less than £6 a day can make public transport unaffordable for those recently arrived in the UK, so a bike is sometimes the only way to attend appointments and combat social isolation.

“Projects like Sanctuary Wheels provide so much more than two wheels; they provide opportunities and independence.”

Sanctuary Wheels launched in May 2022 to provide bikes, helmets and signpost tuition for refugees in Oxfordshire.

The collective efforts of Cyclox, Asylum Welcome and Active Oxfordshire along with the ongoing support of residents continues to make the project possible.


Read more from this author

This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Matthew.norman@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1

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