News release from 28/07/2022

Third supplier joins ‘free bikes for Ukrainians’ initiative

A row of bicyclesA row of bicycles

A popular free bike scheme to help Ukrainian guests who have fled the war-torn country settle into life in South Cambridgeshire is being expanded – with more donations of bicycles needed.

TAG Bikes in Huntingdon is joining the District Council’s initiative with other local charities. OWL bikes and Camtrust have been providing the free bikes since the end of May, but the scheme has been so successful that the addition of a third supplier will help meet demand. So far, OWL Bikes and Camtrust have already provided bikes to a total of 48 guests.

Latest Government Figures show that 735 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 free bike scheme provides guests from Ukraine, who have arrived as part of Homes for Ukraine, with a fully refurbished cycle, with helmets and locks supplied free of charge. The Council also provides them with details of a free Bikeability cycle training course, which includes a translator.

TAG Bikes is appealing for anyone with a spare bike languishing unused in the shed to get in touch to donate it to the scheme. There is a particular need for more ladies cycles.

TAG Bikes is part of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Learning Disability Partnership which provides day opportunities to support people with learning disabilities to gain work experience, increase their independence and skills and offer support to find paid employment. Its team supports bicycle donations with bicycle servicing and general bike repairs at its dedicated workshop.

Councillor Bill Handley South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Lead Cabinet Member for Communities, Cllr Bill Handley, said: “We’re grateful to TAG Bikes for coming on board to help meet the high demand from our Ukrainian guests for free bicycles.  With the war in Ukraine still very much in our minds, and many people wanting to help in whatever way they can, we are pleased to co-ordinate this excellent scheme which is demonstrating how our communities are working together to welcome those arriving from Ukraine. The bicycles provide independent travel for our guests, helping them to settle in, meet-up, keep fit and get around when public transport may not be available.”

Cambridgeshire County Council’s Vice Chair of Adults and Health Committee, Cllr Susan van de Ven said: “We’re delighted to be able to help support this initiative. TAG Bikes is an amazing project that really helps build confidence and skills for those it supports – as well as bringing back into use unwanted bikes. I’d encourage anyone with a spare bike gathering dust to donate it so that it can be refurbished and passed on to help someone in need.”

Bicycles that are in a reasonable condition can be donated along with unwanted helmets, spare tyres and parts to TAG Bikes at Huntingdon Community Centre, 12a Ambury Road, Huntingdon PE29 1JE. Opening hours are Monday to Friday 9am until 4pm. TAG Bikes would also be willing to collect bicycles that cannot be dropped off at their centre in Huntingdon. Contact 01480 377697 in the first instance for further details.

Impington-based Camtrust also continues to need donations of bicycles.  If you can help, they can be contacted on 01223 236786 or via email to OWL bikes, part of the Papworth Trust, are currently working on the bikes they have in stock.

The bicycle scheme is available to any Ukrainian refugees, including children, who are living in South Cambridgeshire under the Homes for Ukraine programme. Hosts can also apply on behalf of guests. Applications for bikes can be made online and the Council will put the applicant in touch with the nearest supplier so they can arrange to collect their bicycle. If bikes are no longer needed, they can be returned to the supplier.