Our Warm Welcome get on their bikes thanks to charity grant
30 July, 2019
The Foundation is the charitable arm of health and care provider City Health Care Partnership CIC, who provide NHS and council-funded services in St Helens, Wigan and Knowsley as well as in Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire. The Foundation offers grants of up to £1000 to voluntary and community groups who are helping to improve the health and wellbeing of local people.
Our Warm Welcome’s objectives are to welcome, protect and promote refugees and asylum seekers living in St Helens, helping them to integrate fully into the community. Co-ordinator Gordon Pennington explains that bikes can play a big part in this: “The Bike Shed project aims to equip, enable and empower newly arrived refugees and asylum seekers. Together with partners Peter Howe from The Bike Shed we collect secondhand bikes, fix them up and give them to refugees and asylum seekers.
“The refugees and seekers work with Bike Shed volunteers on the bike servicing each week; they learn skills and can feel part of the community. The team also organise local bike rides, helping people to explore their new town and socialise.
“The grant from CHCP Foundation meant we could buy puncture repair kits and tools, helmets, locks, lights and jackets so people can use the bikes to get around. Asylum seekers are not allowed to work until they’ve been granted refugee status and only get £5 a day to live on, so having free transport is vital for them.”
As well as supporting The Bike Shed project, Our Warm Welcome’s main role is to run a weekly café and food bank and work with the British Red Cross, SHAP and local churches as well as government accommodation contractor SERCO to help support 52 adults and 25 children. “We’ve got doctors, pharmacists and even a professor of robotics who has customized his bike,” says Gordon. “It’s good to know that we can help in a small way to enable them to become part of St Helens and build new lives for themselves and their families.”