In the year ending in June 2015, asylum applications increased by 10%, highlighting the demand to help vulnerable groups of people settle in the UK.
Round 1 of the New Beginnings Fund, worth £525,000, was launched to support the work of community groups across the UK. Contributors of the fund include Comic Relief; Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales; Barrow Cadbury Trust; Pears Foundation; and The Rayne Foundation.
Round 2 was launched in October 2016, with Children In Need, Oak Foundation and Pears Foundation contributing to a fund worth £440,000. Please note that round 2 has now closed.
THE BIKE PROJECT
Fleeing from areas of conflict or persecution, refugees and asylum seekers are confronted with the reality of settling in an unfamiliar environment. Living and travel costs in London are high, preventing refugees and asylum seekers from accessing vital services. Isolation and loneliness becomes inevitable for some refugees.
With the help of the New Beginnings Fund, the London Community Foundation supported The Bike Project, a grassroots initiative which has provided donated bikes to 20,000 refugees and asylum seekers. The project also gives bike riding and maintenance lessons, creating a safe space for people to meet new people.
The Bike Project has given refugees the freedom to travel across London. “It’s like I have new wings,” said Maizer Ramadan, an asylum seeker from Sudan. Asylum seekers are able to access healthcare and education services; solicitors to help them apply for asylum; and even charities which give them food. The Bike Project gives more than just a bike – it’s a lifeline for many vulnerable people.