Sustrans helps Syrian refugee women gain independence by learning to cycle

Photo of people gathering in a community setting with people on the sat on the stage in a row

Sustrans officers collect a certificate for their work teaching Syrian refugee women how to cycle

15 January 2019

Sustrans helps Syrian refugee women gain independence by learning to cycle.

Sustrans Officers in Taunton collected a certificate for their outstanding contributions in supporting and teaching a group of Syrian refugee women how to cycle.

The Certificate of Excellence was awarded by Tauntons’ MP Rebecca Pow at ‘Taunton Welcomes Refugees’ third birthday held at Taunton’s Methodist Church at the end of 2018.

Volunteers from the organisation ‘Taunton Welcomes Refugees’ worked closely with Sustrans throughout the summer to help the women to cycle, increasing their independence and integration into the local community.

Getting Around Taunton

The initiative is part of the ‘Getting Around Taunton’ project which is works with workplaces, schools, community groups and residents across the South of Taunton to reduce traffic congestion and encourage more sustainable modes of transport such as walking, cycling, car share and public transport.

Liz Bidmead, a ‘Taunton Welcomes Refugees’ volunteer said:

'Take a group of Syrian Refugee Women, some who have never ridden a bike before but would like to learn.  Add to the mix their determination to learn new skills, integrate and be independent. Finally, introduce them to a volunteer who is a strong Sustrans advocate and magic happens.

'The patience, enthusiasm, encouragement to learn and improve, and the insightful teaching of the Sustrans team - who even hired a bike for one woman to use - has been outstanding.

'The whole group were immensely grateful to Sustrans and the volunteers who facilitated the joining of the two. One Syrian woman proudly said "the bruises were worth it!"'

Over 100 people attend the ceremony, including the Syrian refugee families and the partner organisations who have been involved in their community integration over the last three years.

The families spoke of their moving stories and a huge spread of Syrian cakes and pastries with plenty of tea kicked off the evening’s celebrations.

Ruby Tobin, Sustrans Taunton Project Officer said:

'We’re really happy to have been invited to such a special evening and to have been able to support these wonderful women. We now look forward to doing some more bike safety awareness as part of their English classes.'

Find out more information about the Getting Around Taunton initiative

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