Riding into a new beginning

Riding into a new beginning

Bikes on a tennis court

Arriving in a new country to start a new life is full of challenges and changes like obtaining employment, starting school, studying a new language, learning a new currency and working out local transport options. ARA Bike Workshops are designed to support clients with their transport options.

Partnering with the Adelaide Community Bike Workshop, the collaboration between our two organisations has meant that we can support those who need transport options upon arriving in Adelaide.

“The Ride with Confidence program supports new arrivals and refugee families by supplying them with bikes when needed. Normally we receive referrals from schools, TAFE, other service providers and communities. Clients often ask us directly as well. We request Adelaide Bike Workshop to support us with some bikes, they normally deliver within a few weeks and we hand over to the client with some safety tips. Many of our clients enjoy bike riding – it’s good for their health, wellbeing and very helpful in the beginning stages of settlement. Most of our clients have used bikes as their main mode of transport back in their home country so they don’t need much training, but they do need to understand safety and road rules” says ARA Case Manager, Amber Poudel.

“New arrivals receive priority as it’s important that they aren’t isolated when they get here. With a bike they can visit friends, family members, go shopping or go out for exercise and get to know their new home.”

The ARA Bike Workshops program is delivered in the school holidays and offers not only the opportunity for clients to receive their bikes, but also to attend information sessions on bike safety, road rules and road etiquette from the South Australia Police, as well as receiving instruction from the Adelaide Community Bike Workshop delegate on how to ride a bike properly.

Mike Brisco from Adelaide Bike Workshop is passionate about supporting new arrivals and refugees who come to Australia seeking a better life and so committed himself to using his bicycle know-how and passion for refugee rights to begin the on-going initiative to supply second hand, repaired bikes to those who need them.

“It was back in 2003 when I felt that I personally wanted to do my bit to help refugees – I had met people who had been forced out of their own country because of the Holocaust and then began reading up on human displacement and realised that it’s still going on and wanted to help make a change.”

The ARA Bike Workshops program began to roll (pun intended), when a relative of someone who was part of the cycling group heard four women from Republic of the Congo speaking French on a bus and understood what they were saying.

One of the women’s primary concerns was the difficulty associated with getting around Adelaide and their lacking knowledge of road rules and safety requirements. So, the bike program between ARA and Adelaide Community Bike Workshop was born, and not long after its inception, Mike and his fellow volunteers took over management of the program.

“I signed up to volunteer with ARA in 2000, and visited a newly arrived family and helped them to settle in. At the same time, I was passionate about bike riding and joined the Bicycle Institute of South Australia and Advocacy for Commuter Cyclists association, then realising the need for refugees had for bikes, it all came together,” says Mike.

Adelaide Community Bike Workshop will accept second hand bikes that need fixing up, then making the necessary repairs. Those bikes that don’t sell are reserved for new arrivals and refugees who are current clients with ARA.

The most recent Ride with Confidence program was held on the 17th of July at ARA’s Salisbury office location with an impressive turnout of 26 clients. Of this group half were referred from the Adelaide Secondary School of English, a quarter were self-referred and the remainder were referred from community groups and service providers.

A total of 30 bikes were distributed to eager ARA clients and Mike provided a full workshop and presentation on all things bike related including how to fix a flat tyre, how to disassemble bikes and how to quickly fix any prickly technical issues.

If you are an ARA client, or you know a new arrival or refugee who could benefit from having a bike and learning road and bike safety rules, please contact us directly on 8281 2052.

If you’d like to donate a bike to the Adelaide Community Bike Workshop, please email acbwsa@gmail.com or text 0435 02 16 81. Or you can visit their website for more information.

Article by ARA volunteer Alice Brooks

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