Council and charities provide bicycles for Ukrainian guests

People who have fled Ukraine and arrived in South Cambridgeshire can now request a free bike as part of a District Council initiative with local charities.

bike

Guests from Ukraine who have arrived as part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme can now request a quality second-hand bicycle – with bikes being provided by OWL Bikes and Camtrust. Helmets and locks will also be supplied free of charge. The Council will also provide guests with details of a free Bikeability cycle training course, which will include a translator.

Latest Government figures show that 514 visas have so far been issued for South Cambridgeshire as part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme. This remains the highest number for any District Council area, and the seventh highest figure for any area in England. Only bigger Unitary Authority areas, and some London boroughs, have larger numbers. The bicycle scheme has been put together to support new arrivals in the rural district to meet other guests who have arrived in neighbouring villages. It will also help guests move between communities when public transport may not be available.

OWL Bikes, part of the Papworth Trust, offers quality refurbished bikes for sale - while offering work and training opportunities for local disabled people. Back in 2019, the charity was provided with a £13,392 Zero Carbon Communities grant by the District Council to provide pop-up bike shops and safe cycling and repair workshops for South Cambridgeshire communities.

Impington-based Camtrust specialises in life and work skills for adults with physical disabilities and learning difficulties. The charity also runs a bicycle refurbishment programme where donated bikes are refurbished by a small team of staff and clients and sold at affordable prices. Camtrust also offers bike servicing.

Meanwhile, residents who may have a spare or not needed bicycle at home are being encouraged to offer it to OWL Bikes or Camtrust as part of the initiative – so the cycles can be refurbished and passed to guests from Ukraine. 

South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Lead Cabinet Member for Community Resilience, Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Bill Handley, said: “Once again, our communities are coming together to provide meaningful support to people arriving from Ukraine; and this time two excellent local charities are also stepping-up to make a difference. The bicycles provided to guests from Ukraine will mean they can get out and about in South Cambridgeshire, be better connected to other guests and villages, explore our beautiful countryside, and stay active during the summer months. This is important to help our guests settle in, meet-up and get around when public transport might not be an option. I’m truly grateful to OWL Bikes and Camtrust for supplying the bicycles for this scheme. It is yet another example of the incredible community spirit that exists throughout the district and the Council is very pleased to be able to help co-ordinate the scheme. Equally importantly, the Council is also offering free Bikeability courses. These courses provide practical skills and advice on how to cycle safely and legally on our roads using qualified, expert instructors – all backed-up by a translator that we will arrange.”

Helena Harris, Director of Operations at Papworth Trust, said: “Everyone at Papworth Trust has been shocked and saddened to see the events unfolding in Ukraine. We are all somebody’s friend, child, sibling, parent or partner – and the thought of our European neighbours living through such unimaginable suffering is heart-breaking.  

“OWL Bikes is delighted to join in partnership with South Cambridgeshire District Council and be able to offer practical support to the Ukrainian refugees. We rely on the generosity of people donating their old bikes, so if you have a good quality bike you would like to donate please contact Kevin Walshe on 01223 839580.”

Lilly Mungovan, Centre Manager at Camtrust, said: “Thanks to the kindness and generosity of Camtrust’s supporters, and the local community, our ‘Give A Refurbished Bike’ Localgiving project has already helped to provide bikes for Ukrainian families in Histon and Impington. We know how valuable a bike can be, providing independence and the freedom to travel longer distances. We are delighted to be part of this scheme with South Cambridgeshire District Council and OWL Bikes. We hope that we’re able to make a small difference towards this worthy cause.”

The bicycle scheme is available to any Ukrainian refugees, including children, who are residing in South Cambridgeshire under the Homes for Ukraine programme. Hosts may wish to apply on behalf of guests.

Once a guest applies for a bike and the Council has confirmed they are eligible, they will be put in touch with the supplier nearest to them so that they can arrange to collect their bicycle. Where no transport is immediately available for hosts to collect bikes, such as if host family has no car, a community group may be able to assist. The Council can help link hosts and guests through to their local community group and District Councillors if needed. Guests or hosts can ask for this support, and raise any further queries or concerns around bicycle collection, by emailing duty.communities@scambs.gov.uk

If bikes are no longer needed, they can be returned to the supplier.

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