Re~Cycle is a wonderful charity that adopts unwanted bikes here in the UK, and sends them out to communities across Africa where they transform lives. In Africa, bikes are the cleanest, healthiest, most affordable and efficient form of transport. They increase access to opportunities, whether they are economic, educational, social or personal. They connect workers with employment, students to schools, producers to users of goods and services, patients to healthcare, and everyone to family and friends. A cyclist can cover four times more ground and can carry five times more load in weight than a person on foot.
To launch our "Good Black Friday" campaign we are offering our customers 10% off this Friday 27th November and we will also donate 10% of sales on the day to Re~cycle to help them continue their good work and help more people get on their bikes.
We caught up with the founder and CEO Merlin Matthews from Re~cycle to find out more about their work. (registered charity number 1063570)
1. So, how did the charity start?
I set up Re~Cycle in 1997 whilst I was studying at the London School of Economics and also playing the role of ‘Dr Bike’, teaching people to fix bikes in exchange for beers, on Friday evenings.
A Haitian lady approached me for advice about starting up a bike factory in Haiti, as she had seen the need for cheap, pollution free transport for the masses. I decided it was such a good idea that I offered to help.
It was then it became obvious that there are lots of bikes being thrown away in the UK which could be put to good use elsewhere, and the need for an organisation like Re~Cycle to be set up to do just that.
I started Re~Cycle and partnered with a US organisation already shipping bikes to Haiti. It turned out that they found a need for bikes to be shipped to South Africa, which I took on. I then realised that it would be better for Re~Cycle to focus on Africa and for the US organisation to send bikes to Haiti.
Since that time, Re~Cycle has sent over 70,000 bikes to Africa.
2. Who do the bikes go to?
Re~Cycle sends bikes to seven African not-for-profit partners in six African countries. All our partners work in areas where there is evidence of need for bikes, and are able to assist communities to refurbish and maintain the bikes.
Our beneficiaries include:
· Children, who can walk up to 20km to school and back each day
· Women, whose days often have arduous journeys just to fetch water and firewood
· Farmers, who travel great distances taking goods to market, and
· People in need of income generation and skill development opportunities
Household research carried out in Ghana by our partners the Village Bicycle Project, found that most bikes are used on average by six people. This is because one bike will often be shared within a family, each person making varying journeys during the week. That means, since we began, we have helped around 420,000 people.
3. How do the bikes help local communities?
The bikes provide communities with a source of simple affordable transport which saves time and energy and generates income opportunities. With a little basic maintenance a bike can benefit a family for many years.
As well as the direct benefits the bicycles themselves make to the communities, many of the bikes are used by our partners to generate income to sustain their work. For example, one of our partners Glad’s House in Kenya sells the bikes to the local community at a low price and offers them a place to come for bike repairs and maintenance, and uses the funds to pay for many of the services they provide for street children such as food, education and welfare. They also use the bikes to teach street children about bike mechanics and running a small enterprise.
4. Which is your favourite Hill & Ellis bag?
There’s been much debate about this in the Re~Cycle office! It’s such a lovely and varied range, but I would have to say that my personal favourite is the Bradley Bike Bag. It really stands out, great design, and I really like that it’s made in the UK with materials sourced as close to home as possible to reduce its effect on the environment. Have a look here: www.hillandellis.com/shop/bradley-bike-bag One for my Christmas wish list!
5. If I get a new bike for Christmas, how do I donate my old bike?
If you get a new bike then well done you! We would love to give your old bike a second life in Africa. All you need to do is find your local Re~Cycle drop off point on our website: www.re-cycle.org and drop it off. We take bikes that are in a reasonable condition. To check yours is suitable you can find out more here: http://www.re-cycle.org/resources/faq/donations/what-type-bike-do-you-want-and-what-condition Thank you!
There are plenty of other ways to help use get more bikes to Africa, even if you don’t have one to donate yourself. You could donate funds, volunteer, fundraise (ride or otherwise) or simply help to spread the word to your cycling friends.
Wishing you a Very Happy Christmas!
Remember 10% of sales on our "Good Black Friday" (27th November) will be donated to Re-Cycle. And you also will get 10% off for yourself with the code "GoodBlackFriday"