A group of migrants seeking refuge in Belfast have been helped to get about the city by bike through a Sustrans cycle training programme.
Some of the asylum seekers who received bikes and cycle training through Migrant Help group with support from Sustrans and Big Loop Bikes. Pic credit: Brian Morrison
Six men who have recently arrived from Eritrea and Iran received a refurbished bike after successfully completing a five-week cycle skills course.
The programme was co-designed with Migrant Help and Belfast City of Sanctuary, with the aim to increase the participants’ confidence on a bicycle through accredited cycle skills development.
The training also included exploring areas in the city where people can choose to ride their bikes on less busy roads as well as introducing the trainees to the existing network of cycling infrastructure.
In partnership with Big Loop Bikes, we donated a refurbished bicycle to each participant and also provided items such as hi-viz vests, helmets and bicycle locks.
As part of the Public Health Agency‘s Community Active Travel Programme, we're delivering training to encourage and enable more people in disadvantaged communities to walk and cycle as part of their everyday lives.
Orla Gardiner, Migrant Help Regional Manager said:
“We are extremely grateful for the opportunity of working with organisations like Sustrans in providing programmes like these to our service users.
“The majority of folk in our support are asylum seekers; being in that system can prove extremely stressful with limited opportunities.
“These workshops have provided those opportunities which otherwise would not be available to them.
“Having the added value now of owning their own bikes… Well, what can I say... the smiles on the gents’ faces said it all!”
Caroline Bloomfield, Sustrans Northern Ireland Director, said:
“Cycling is a low cost, healthy way of travelling and, with the support of the Public Health Agency (PHA), we are delighted to be able to work with this group of asylum seekers.
“As well as arranging reconditioned bicycles we also provided training to ensure they are aware of how to cycle safely on the roads around Belfast.”
David Tumilty, the PHA’s lead on Active Travel, said:
“Congratulations to the men who have completed this training.
“We were delighted to support this project which helps tackle health inequalities and encourages and enables more people in disadvantaged communities, to walk and cycle as part of their day to day lives.”
Our Communities team has worked with a range of groups, from youth groups to women’s and men’s groups, parents and toddlers, voluntary sector workers and the migrant community.
Find out more about the Community Active Travel Programme.