It was a proud moment for all at Asylum Welcome last night when Nasser, our Bike Project Coordinator, was honoured with a High Sheriff Award for 2022/23. The annual awards recognise individuals in the county of Oxfordshire who have made outstanding contributions to the communities in which they live and work.

Nasser is the leader of the Sanctuary Wheels project, which he does on an entirely voluntary basis on behalf of Asylum Welcome. Sanctuary Wheels provides free, refurbished bikes and tuition for hundreds of young refugees across Oxfordshire.

Since August 2022 alone, Nasser has overseen 106 bikes being lovingly refurbished and matched with young refugees and their parents, with refugees remarking that their new bikes give them ‘freedom’ and help them to settle into Oxfordshire life.

Until recently Nasser operated the programme largely out of his house, where he has at times housed 60 bikes whilst they await refurbishment before matching with young refugees and their families.

A recent quote, from a beneficiary of Sanctuary Wheels:

We are really happy my sons have their bikes.

They spend more time outside and less at home when they have free time.

They go for a ride, meet their friends, ride to the playground and even help us with shopping.

– Y, a Ukrainian mother of two

[For our refugee clients] having a bike makes a huge difference to their morale, gets them out and doing, gives them freedom of transport across the city and often is a crucial factor in being able to take up educational and therapeutic support. It can be a major stage in becoming an independent member of society.

– Dr Gilberto Estrada Harris – Fundraising, Development and Communications Manager at Asylum Welcome