A London charity that helps refugees and asylum seekers by providing refurbished bicycles has been given a financial boost from international humanitarian aid charity, Islamic Relief UK.

The Bike Project, based in Dulwich, south east London, was presented with a cheque for £1,000 by Imran Madden, UK Director of Islamic Relief. The money came from profits of a unique project that Islamic Relief participated in earlier this year – the UK’s first inter-faith charity shop.

(Left to right: Imran Madden, Islamic Relief UK Director, volunteers at The Bike Project, Vicky and Leila, Jem Stein, CEO of The Bike Project)

The pop-up interfaith charity shop in Selfridges on Oxford Street celebrated and united the Muslim, Christian, Jewish and Buddhist communities. It was the idea of American artist and film-maker, Miranda July, and produced by leading arts organisation, Artangel.

The design of the shop was a replica of Islamic Relief’s charity shop in Whitechapel.

Islamic Relief has supported The Bike Project since January 2017. From January to December 2017, about 1,000 bikes have been donated – 200 of which are as a result of the funding from Islamic Relief.

Imran Madden, UK Director of Islamic Relief, said:

 “The Bike Project is a fantastic charity that we are proud to support. Providing refugees and those seeking asylum with bicycles really can make a difference to their lives. Many have very little money to live on and having a bike saves on transport costs.

“We were honoured to have been chosen by Miranda July to take part in this unique art concept. Art is at the heart of many nations, religions and communities, providing an intimate and authentic view into another’s culture and perception of the world. 

“Taking part in Miranda’s project has helped us to continue with our mission to support and save the lives of many of the world’s most vulnerable people.”

During the two months the shop was open, it was staffed jointly by four religious charities chosen by Miranda – Islamic Relief, Jewish charity, Norwood, London Buddhist Centre and Spitalfields Crypt Trust.

Items for sale were donated by the public and typical of those traditionally sold in charity shops.

After the project ended, the shop’s profits were divided between all four charities, with each donating 2.5 per cent of their share to another charity of their choice. In the case of Islamic Relief, the Bike Project was chosen.

Jem Stein, founder and CEO of The Bike Project, said:

Once again I would like to say thank you to Islamic Relief for their continued support and for choosing us to share the profits from the inter-faith charity shop.

“Having fled persecution and atrocity in their country of origin, most refugees arrive in London with absolutely nothing. They have very little in resources. A weekly bus pass is £21 a week so a bike is a free sustainable means to get around.  It can help them access education, healthcare and food banks.

“This donation will go towards the buying of gloves and reflective vests for refugees this winter so they can keep warm and cycle safely.”

The Bike Project take second-hand bikes, fixes them up and donate them to refugees and asylum-seekers. A small proportion of the bikes they receive are sold through The Bike Shop to generate funds, the proceeds of which support The Bike Project.

All the beneficiaries go to the Bike Project’s workshop and help fix their own bicycles so they become actively involved in the process. They learn basic maintenance and many go on to form long-term supportive relationships with other refugees.

The Bike Project also runs a separate project teaching refugee women to cycle. Complete beginners receive cycling lessons once a week, for 10 weeks, after which all the participants are given their own bike.

 

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