Plans are well under way for 50 bikes repaired by Lewisham cycle-enthusiasts to be sent to disadvantaged people in Africa.
The scheme, geared towards bringing together young people and educating them about bike maintenance, is part of the Young Lewisham Project, a set of “alternative educational courses” for young people in the area.
The group of 12 have been working over the past two years to repair unwanted or stolen bikes for people in Malawi.
The Forest Hill project meets every Saturday. They currently have 30 bikes ready to send but are aiming for 50. Founder Dave Newman spoke to Eastlondonlines about their progress: “We will now be looking for some more [bikes]… [They] make a huge difference to people in Africa, enabling young people to get to school and people to take things to market.”
Among those who have donated to the scheme is the Perry Vale Safer Neighbourhood Team in Lewisham. The team said: “We are really pleased that we are able to donate these bikes to such a worthy programme. The majority of them have come from a pool of those that we have recovered that were reported lost or stolen or which the owners failed to claim.”
The scheme was inspired by “The Boy Who Flies” documentary, which Newman saw at a film festival. “It is a very inspirational film… We contacted the young guy in Malawi who is in the DVD and the rest is history,” he said.
The short film tells the story of a Canadian paraglider who meets a Malawian youth worker, Godfrey Massuli.
Massuli, who set up a centre to educate young people, agreed to aid the YLP to get the bikes delivered to those who need them most.
The YLP have recently also been in contact with Book Bus, a charity which supplies books to children in Africa and India.
Along with work to provide transport for the disadvantaged, the scheme is also enabling young people involved to improve their filmmaking skills.
“We are planning to get the young people to make a film of the project. A documentary film person is going to give our potential filmmaker some lessons,” said Newman.
Those interested in donating an unwanted bike or for more information can call 0208 291 9771 or email firstname.lastname@example.org