Cycling makes travelling a fare deal better for Esther and her family

Cycling means so much to Esther, her husband Arshad and daughter Tara

Cycling makes travelling a fare deal better for Esther and her family

Esther no longer has to pay for expensive bus fares now she and her family have learned to cycle thanks to the Big Bike Revival in Manchester.

Cycling has been a life-changer for Esther, her husband Arshad and daughter Tara, helping them to get around as well as feel part of the local community, as they dream of making the UK their home.

Esther said: “I am an asylum seeker from Iran. I have been in the UK with my family, waiting for the Home Office to clear our asylum claim.

“In the meantime we are in a new country, trying to learn a new language, with no right to work or make a start on a new life. We have very little money to live on and transport is a big issue for us. We have no family in this country. 

“We started to go to the Conversation Clubs and Community Meal provided by the charity, Manchester City of Sanctuary. It was here that we signed up for a special cycling project at Alexandra Park. I wanted to learn how to ride a bike because the buses are so expensive. I also longed for some good exercise," Esther said.

“There were lots of us learning together. My husband and daughter came too, so we learned as a family. Each week I went on a Monday morning to learn to ride a bike provided by Whalley Range on Wheels."

I am much more confident now and have made new English friends. I can ride to school or to any appointment or just for pleasure.

Esther, asylum seeker from Iran

“Their volunteers taught me how to ride until I could cycle round the park by myself. Then they taught me how to cycle safely on the road. At the end of 10 weeks they gave me a bike that had been donated. Other volunteers had fixed the bike up and added a bell and some security-making. They also gave me a helmet, bike lock, bike bump, high-vis jacket and puncture repair kit so that I could look after my own bike," Esther said.

“In August we had a presentation by the local police, who had donated some of the bikes. We were given certificates to say we had taken part in the 10-week course.

“I am much more confident now and have made new English friends. I can ride to school or to any appointment or just for pleasure.”

Jane Graystone, project worker for Manchester City of Sanctuary, said: “It has been wonderful to see a local project like Whalley Range on Wheels extending their welcome and facilities to asylum seekers. They have been patient, persistent and forever encouraging of Esther and her family.

“Esther has grown in smiles and confidence. Thanks to the funding provided by the Big Bike Revival she has really felt part of British society for the first time, equipped and free to cycle.”

Whalley Range on Wheels is a Cycling UK Community Club which shared our national Best Community Project award with Bradford’s Onna Bike at our Members’ Get Together in Manchester.

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