Happy Hazel with her bike

 

A project that aims to improve the mental health of people living in Direct Provision through cycling has passed a significant milestone.

The ‘Trailblaiser’ project delivered 21 refurbished bikes and safety gear to children living in Mosney in Co Meath at the weekend.

It means the project has now donated more than 100 bikes to young asylum seekers and refugees since it started last May.

Co-founder Aoife Kelly said: ”During the pandemic, myself and my partner got into cycling. And when we discovered how much it benefited our mental health, we said we wanted to share this cycling experience with people living in Direct Provision.

“Since we started, seeing the reaction, the joy of kids pulling wheelies and cycling around and having fun, we just really value that feeling. It’s special.”

The ‘Trailblaiser’ project works in conjunction with social enterprise, Frontline Bikes, to collect, refurbish and upcycle unwanted bikes.

Frontline Bikes’ Gerard McBrearty said: “We are saving bikes from landfill. We are taking bikes from people’s backyards that may be long-forgotten. And we are giving them a new lease of life.

“We are also helping people in the community who may not be able to afford new bikes by donating them.

“We’re offering children the ability to cycle to school, get out into their local communities, meet people and be part of communities.”

Hazel Moyo, nine, from Zimbabwe, was among the children at Mosney to be gifted a bike last Saturday.

She said: “‘I feel happy and grateful. This bike will help me with my exercise and help me go to the dining.

“It will also enable me to catch the bus and help me get to certain places around Mosney much quicker.”

So far, only two bikes have been delivered to adult residents, but Ms. Kelly said she wants to expand the scheme.

“We hope to create a system to distribute bikes fairly to adults in the coming months. We want more people to get into cycling. Our goal is to use cycling as a tool to bridge the gap between Direct Provision residents and the wider community.”

Mosney management said cycling is ”hugely popular” among its residents, with two new cycle lanes introduced on site last summer.