Teenage asylum seeker riding high thanks to Big Bike Revival

Mohammed receives a cycling certificate from the police as Eve Holt of Whalley Range on Wheels looks on

Teenage asylum seeker riding high thanks to Big Bike Revival

As a 17-year-old asylum seeker from Pakistan, Mohammed couldn’t afford a bike. Today, not only does he own one, he has also learned how to fix it and has trained to become a Ride Leader.

Mohammed hasn’t looked back since becoming involved in Cycling UK’s Big Bike Revival during the summer through Manchester City of Sanctuary and Whalley Range on Wheels.

Mohammed, who lives in Longsight, Manchester, said: “My family are having to ask for asylum here in the UK. It is a very uncertain time for us as we wait for the Home Office decision.

“My college mates don’t know my situation – that I struggle to have any money, that my family have to seek help from friends and charities to survive. I didn’t have a bike myself.

“I attend the Community Meals put on by Manchester City of Sanctuary. There I heard about the Monday morning Cycling Project at Alexandra Park. Me and my brother signed up immediately!" Mohammed said.

“I now have freedom! I keep myself healthy and even get to college on time! It feels great.”

Mohammed has chosen to go on and do Ride Leader training as well, which will make use of his natural leadership skills.

Jane Graystone, project worker for Manchester City of Sanctuary

“We cycled every week, whatever the weather – rain, hail or sunshine. I got confident on a bike and then was able to choose my own from the bikes donated by the police," Mohammed said.

“I worked on it myself to get it in good order. There are volunteer helpers at Whalley Range on Wheels who help you learn bike maintenance.”

Having his own bike has had a hugely positive impact on Mohammed’s life and he also went on a day’s Ride Leader training so in future he can take other people out for rides.

I now have freedom! I keep myself healthy and even get to college on time! It feels great.

Mohammed, 17-year-old asylum seeker

Jane Graystone, project worker for Manchester City of Sanctuary, said: “It’s so exciting to see a group of teenage boys experiencing such freedom on bikes, cycling off round the park, making plans about where to go.

“It’s a great leveller. Transport is expensive and now Mohammed can ride for free. It’s also great exercise. Mohammed has chosen to go on and do Ride Leader training as well, which will make use of his natural leadership skills.”

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