The Bristol Bike Project was born in 2008 when two friends
returned from their first cycling tour with a new-found love of bikes
and a desire to help their community.
James and Colin had identified a need for affordable transport among asylum seekers in Bristol…
many of whom were struggling to get about the city to make important appointments and received very little support from the government. Having experienced for themselves the freedom a bicycle can bring, the solution became clear: help people get out on two wheels.
They put up posters asking for unwanted bicycles, teamed up with Bristol Refugee Rights to spread the word among their members, and within days were spannering away and rehoming spruced up bicycles with delighted new owners.
In the months that followed, their wrenching skills were put to the test. We quickly outgrew our somewhat basic workshops – an old horse stable on the outskirts of Bristol and a back garden in Montpelier – and in April 2009, we moved into our fantastic new digs as part of Hamilton House, a community art and social space in Stokes Croft. We’re still here today!
"We put up a few posters asking for unwanted bikes and within days we were inundated with donations. I had to clamber over a pile of bikes to get into bed at night!"
The Bristol Bike Project was born
Since then BBP has evolved massively. In the first few years, we registered as a Community Interest Company and set up a bike shop to fund our community work. We also established ourselves up as a member-led Co-op to ensure the way we work mirrors our values and objectives.
We soon realised that it was not only asylum-seekers who would benefit hugely from access to affordable and sustainable transport, and opened our doors to people from all walks of life, including people with mental health issues, recovering from substance addiction as well as those in supported/sheltered housing. We now get referrals from over 50 organisations in and around Bristol, who help to ensure our services are available to those who need us most.
We are always looking for ways to reach out and engage with new people through our community programmes and offer many opportunities for people to get involved and develop their bike mechanic skills.
“It's so brilliant to see the project thriving, to know that I helped plant a seed that has flourished thanks to the enthusiasm from volunteers and staff. BBP has evolved so much over the years but the ethos remains the same. It's a space where judgement and prejudice are left at the door and basic human interaction becomes the priority.”