REFUGEES and asylum seekers in Swindon are being given bikes to help them integrate into their new surroundings.

Nearly 300 bicycles have been recycled and donated to the Harbour Project, which offers support to people attempting to start new lives after feeing war-torn areas.

Nan Bains, project manager at the charity, said: “The work that goes into preparing and getting the bikes ready is tremendous. This is all made possible by the hard work from our volunteers.”

Hundreds of people have been helped by the scheme in the two years it has been running.

“We are extremely grateful for the generosity the people of Swindon have shown us, it’s always surprising how much people are willing to help.”

She said it would not have been possible without the work done by Phil Dorning who volunteers at the project.

Phil has been instrumental in making sure the bikes are roadworthy and safe to ride. Although he only volunteers once a week at the centre, he spends a lot of his free time throughout the week working on the machines.

With help from volunteers who find the bike frames and parts, he restores them ready for new riders.

Nan added: “It’s extremely important to have something like this for the people we help, asylum seekers live on £37.75 a week, with some of them living quite far away from where we are based in the town centre.

“We don’t want the price of travel to stop them from missing vital sessions we put on, when they can cycle in free of charge.”

She added: “The aim is always to reduce isolation and enrich their lives.”

The centre puts on a variety of classes teaching English, cooking, sew and crafts, and many other activities. This is done to create a social environment and a community amongst each other so that they are not stuck isolated at home.

Asylum seekers cannot work in the UK until they are granted refuge – the charity says by giving them a way to get around and by hosting events at the centre, it gives them a purpose.

Everybody who comes through the doors of the project is offered a bike and has the opportunity to put their name down on a list for one.

Bikes are usually handed to new owners within two weeks and the project currently has 10 immigrants waiting to be allocated a bike.

Anyone who can help with donations of bikes, parts or tools to help the scheme can email