The Bristol Bike Project


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Araya, Filimon and Girmay’s story

At The Bristol Bike Project we restore and repair donated bicycles before distributing them to underprivileged and marginalised individuals through our “Earn-a-Bike” scheme.

Araya, Filimon and Girmay came to the UK from Eritrea earlier in 2017, finding BBP through Mendip YMCA. Inspired by Eritrean professional road cyclist Daniel Teklehaimanot, Araya and Filimon were excited by the possibility of owning their own road bikes – something we at BBP could make possible. While Girmay also entertained the idea of a road bike to keep up with his peers, his new home in the UK is opposite the road from a local skatepark, so favoured the idea of a sturdier BMX.

Joining us for a 3 hour “Earn-a-Bike” evening session, each of the guys worked with one of the BBP coordinators to repair a donated bicycle. While working on the bicycles Araya, Filimon and Girmay received 1-to-1 guidance on how to maintain and look after a bicycle, as well as repair common mechanical issues such as brake pad replacement and puncture fixing. At the end of the session, the bicycles were theirs to take home, with an accompanying lock and set of lights.

The donated bikes have allowed three individuals to enjoy the simple pleasure of cycling, as well as allow them to save on the bus fare to college.

A few months on, here’s what the guys have to say about their new bikes…

“Having the BMX bike means that I now know more people because there are a group of us who go over to the BMX park. It has been a really good way to meet people and make new friends.” – Girmay

In Eritrea there are four professional cyclists and this has made cycling like a religion in Eritrea. This is the first road bike that I have had and I love the freedom of going where I want when I want. It also helps me to keep fit too which is very important for me.– Filimon

My new bike helps me get to work on time and get home earlier which is good because I work a lot of different shift times. It took time for me to get used to the roads in the UK and to the weather as well. When I first started riding in the UK I was freezing as I was not used to the cold weather! Now though I have water proof cloths and most importantly gloves which means I can now ride in the winter as well. I also like to use my bike to go to the gym which means I can go when I want and not rely on buses or lifts from other people.” – Araya


Filimon and his super speedy Carrera!                Girmay enjoying his BMX!