Pedal power for refugee families

Youth worker Alex Gorrie checks a bike destined for a refugee family in Dunedin. PHOTO: SIMON...
Youth worker Alex Gorrie checks a bike destined for a refugee family in Dunedin. PHOTO: SIMON HENDERSON
Former refugee families will be more mobile thanks to a new community connection.

Southern Youth Development (Syd) and New Zealand Red Cross have formed a partnership which supports former refugees by gifting recycled bikes to them when they arrive in the city.

Bikes at Syd engages young people to collect bicycles from landfill and restore them to working order.

All rangatahi (youth) involved in this programme gain lifelong skills learning how to use tools, understand bicycle mechanisms and how to maintain bikes.

These transferable skills supported initiative and teamwork and, once completed, young people could take a bicycle home or gift it to the community.

Southern Youth Development general manager Garth Hassall said the organisation loved hearing community members who had received bicycles were getting out and about more.

"They head down to Marlow Park and they meet other people in the community, so it has more benefits than just getting out and being active."

Newly arrived former refugees were one of the priority communities that Syd worked with as they were unlikely to have transport options of their own before arriving in Dunedin.

Southern Youth Development had supported the Dunedin Migration Team at New Zealand Red Cross since 2018, but made the partnership formal this year because rolling intakes meant families were arriving at different times.

Being able to plan ahead was important so former refugee families would be able to receive bicycles not long after their arrival, and with the support of their volunteers.

Southern Youth Development has been providing the community with repurposed bicycles through its recycling programme since 2018.

Funded by the Dunedin City Council, this programme sees about 800 bicycles a year saved from landfill and given back to the community.