Teaching a person how to ride a bike can literally change their life.
And in Maribyrnong, Victoria, AustCycle Provider Bikes@Work has been doing just this, by helping asylum seekers gain the independence and skills needed to go about their life on a bike.
The Hotham helpers
Most asylum seekers in the community can’t work while their visa is being processed and because of this they can’t afford to travel on public transport.
Being unable to get around the city leaves asylum seekers isolated and lonely and as Sarah Thompson, communications manager at the Hotham Mission Asylum Seeker Project, recently told Crosslight, this presents a huge mental health problem.
“Our clients are now much more housebound and at greater risk of depression and related problems. Many have been unable to attend appointments in other suburbs and are restricted to walking-distance activities”.
“To solve this problem of transportation we have developed a bike access program”.
The Project has been distributing donated bikes to asylum seekers to help them get around, and to ensure that each person has the skills to ride safely they arranged for free AustCycle training through Provider Bikes@Work to be held, funded under the Healthy Communities Initiative.
AustCycle Teachers Adeo Esplago and Georgie Fyfe-Jamieson ran the training and both said it has been a great success.
“The participants were focused and committed and were a joy to teach,” Accredited Teacher Georgie Fyfe-Jamieson told AustCycle. “They were especially keen to learn road rules and over the sessions built up their confidence and bike skills”.
“It's great that now they have an alternative means of getting from A to B without having to pay public transport fares, and hopefully they'll have fun and feel great doing it too!”
Hotham Mission Asylum Seeker Project supports people who are seeking asylum and living in the community while their claim is being processed. The Project is funded entirely through donations from the public and is part of the Uniting Care network.
To get in touch with AustCycle Provider Bikes@Work, call Rosy Strong on 0406 765 727. To get in touch with Hotham Mission Asylum Seeker Project call (03) 9326 8343.