Edinburgh Napier throws support behind Bikes for Refugees Scotland charity

Date posted

23 October 2018


Edinburgh Napier is throwing its support behind a charity that refurbishes and distributes abandoned bicycles to refugees and asylum seekers across Scotland.

Led by the Edinburgh Napier campus cycling officer Carola Böttcher, the University has donated three abandoned bicycles to the charity as it calls on staff and students to donate more to the worthy cause.

Operating since early 2016, Bikes for Refugees has refurbished and distributed more than 400 donated bikes for refugees and asylum seekers across Scotland.

Bikes help the social inclusion and integration of new Scots into Scottish life, which the charity believes helps send out an important message of solidarity to people who arrive in Scotland, seeking safety and shelter.

The Univeristy is regularly left with abandoned bikes on campus, and it is hoped that this initial donation is the start of a flurry of regular donations facilitated by the University to the charity.

Donated bikes do not have to be in perfect condition but with limited volunteer mechanic time, the charity is asking for bikes to be in as good a condition as possible before being handed over. It is also after donations of unused cycle wear including jackets as well as volunteer mechanics.

Carola Böttcher, campus cycling officer at Edinburgh Napier, said: “Edinburgh Napier has previously donated bikes to the Edinburgh Bike Station and we will continue to donate bikes to them in the future but I was keen to develop our relationship with Bikes for Refugees.

“The charity currently has a part-time mechanic meaning that it can take bikes that require a bit more work. Its base is actually quite close to our Sighthill campus so it makes sense for us to support it in any way we can.

“Recently, on one day, we had more than 200 bicycles locked up on our campuses which is a fantastic amount and one that we will be looking to build on throughout next year.

“If you are a staff or student who has an old bike that you don’t use any more and it is still in a decent condition then we’d love to hear from you – your donation could make such a difference to the livelihoods of refugees and asylum seekers arriving in Scotland.”

Steven McCluskey, founder and director of Bikes for Refugees, said: “Bikes for Refugees (Scotland) is delighted to be working in partnership with Edinburgh Napier University and its campus cycling officer Carola Böttcher.

“A simple thing like the humble bicycle can and does transform lives. Bikes can help very vulnerable and isolated families to connect with local communities, essential health and education services, and volunteering and work opportunities. The simple joy of cycling can also be liberating for many people and helps to put a smile on the faces of many families and children who have endured much hardship. Physical and mental health benefits are also important, as many people have experienced much trauma and distress seeking safety and shelter from conflict, torture and persecution.

“We welcome this great partnership and would encourage students and staff to support us and to keep the wheels turning.”

Staff and students of Edinburgh Napier are regularly encouraged to consider cycling as a viable mode of transport when travelling to and from campuses.

Through its Environmental Sustainability Policy, it is committed to reducing its carbon footprint, of which travel is a big part.

Its links with cycling goes even further, with its Sustainability and Environmental team helping implement a range of measures, including cycle lanes, signage, bike shelters and lighting around both campuses and student accommodation.

The Univeristy is also a founding partner of the Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland located at Glentress near Peebles.

If you have a bike or some volunteering time that you’d like to donate to Bike for Refugees Scotland, please contact the team on bfrscotland@gmail.com or visit www.bikesforrefugees.scot