Volunteer with our refugee cycle befriending program. Make friends and change a life.
Cycle with a refugee in your local area
Bike Buddies is our befriending refugee program across London and the West Midlands.
Here's a video explaining more, with our incredible supporter Clare Balding when she volunteered for this program.
As a buddy, you'll be matched with a refugee cyclist to meet up for cycling activities! The project aims to build confidence and knowledge of cycling, reduce isolation, improve well-being and encourage social integration and greater independence.
The project aims to build confidence and knowledge of cycling, help reduce isolation, improve well-being, encourage social integration and greater independence. Since 2018, we have paired hundreds of Buddies across Greater London and the West Midlands. Start your Bike Buddy journey today!
Read below for more stories around the Bike Buddies we've already matched.
Jack and Saad
Saad received his bike from us in June 2019 and when he found out about the Bike Buddies programme, was immediately interested in taking part. He said:
“I wanted to experience it and found it interesting. With a volunteer, I can discover places calmly and it gives you vitality when riding a bike.
Bike Buddies volunteer, Jack, was equally as excited to take part:
“I found out about The Bike Project through Twitter, and I applied to the Bike Buddies scheme after seeing a particular tweet about there being a small number of places left on the training day. After a great day of training with other volunteers, I was hugely excited to get started and meet my first bike buddy."
Victoria and Nasrin
Victoria and Nasrin were matched in 2019, and decided to go for a cycle in their local area together. Victoria was delighted with the experience, and the two enjoyed exploring their local area.
Victoria was especially proud of the progress her Buddy made!
It’s really satisfying to see someone go from wobbly to wonderful! Nasrin has progressed so much on the bike, and we had great fun on our ride to Denham Country Park. It’s lovely to be able to get out of the town and enjoy the nature near to us.
Through this befriending program, we have facilitated over 851 buddy hours! We only need you to join us!
Still got questions? You can also read more in our FAQs below!
So you want to be a volunteer Bike Buddy?
How does it work?
As a Buddy, you'll be matched with one of our refugee/asylum seeker bike recipients to meet up for cycling. You apply via our website and we choose a group to join us for an induction session where we will teach you what to expect as a volunteer, best practices of meet ups and some cycling safety tips. We ask you to commit to cycling with your refugee Buddy at least 3 times. However, you are welcome to meet up more than this!
We also ask you to commit to meeting up with the wider community of Buddies in your region once a month and be willing to be matched with at least two refugee Buddies over the course of your volunteering. Please note, this project has a limited intake of volunteers. We’re very grateful to those who want to volunteer with us.
However, we need to ensure we have a spread of volunteers across the areas where refugees live, so we won’t be able to invite all those who apply to join us for a volunteer induction session
What might I do on a ride as a Buddy?
Depending on who you are paired with, as a volunteer Buddy you could: 1. Practice cycling skills together 2. Help with journey planning for everyday or one-off journeys 3. Take a tour of the local area to explore quiet routes, secret short cuts and safe cycle paths 4. Travel together to free facilities or places of interest like a library, gallery, museum or outdoor gym - provided you are adhering to Covid-regulations. 5. Connect your buddy with other cycling support in their area 6. Ride together for the sheer joy of cycling!
Being a Bike Buddy is a volunteering role with lots of flexibility – it’s up to you and your refugee buddy when you meet up and how you spend your time. We always try to match you with someone who lives close to you, but you do need to be willing to travel to meet your Buddy in their area.
Am I eligible to apply?
You're welcome to apply to become a buddy if you meet each of these criteria: You’re willing to travel up to 6 miles to meet with a buddy (and further if you possibly can!) You live in or close to Greater London or the West Midlands You have a mobile phone number which you’re happy to use to contact your Bike Buddy You're 18 or over You've got your own bike (or can borrow one) You're a competent on-road cyclist You’re willing to complete a DBS check as part of the recruitment process
I live on the outskirts of London/Birmingham
Refugees can be housed all around the Greater London region, and in cities and towns outside of Birmingham, so it is in our interest to have volunteers spread as far and wide as possible. You may, however, still need to be willing to travel a small distance to reach your nearest buddy.
I don’t have a bike
Sorry! All Bike Buddies need to have access to their own bike. The Bike Project can't give bikes to anyone who is not a refugee or asylum seeker.
I work late or erratic hours
No problem. Refugees don't always have a typical 9am-5pm schedule either. Equally, you don't have to meet up at the same time every week/fortnight. You'll probably be able to hammer out a good meeting time between the two of you.
I can't attend the training session
All volunteers have to complete our training sessions, held on either a weekday evening or weekend. The location is usually in one of our workshops or in an alternative bike friendly spot outside of the city. We will always let you know before applying the location and dates. Please don't apply if you're unable to take part.
I only want a buddy of the same gender as me
No problem! You can specify this in your volunteering preferences.
6 miles is too far! Can I just meet a buddy who lives close to me?
We always try to match volunteers to refugees who live close to each other, but this isn’t always possible. As volunteers we ask that you travel to meet your buddy, rather than the other way around. Up to 6 miles is the minimum we ask from our volunteers – and we’ll love you forever if you can commit to travelling further because this means we can include more refugees in the project.
Can you reimburse my travel expenses?
Yes and no. We do reimburse travel expenses for the volunteer induction session, but not for your travel to meet your buddy.