Meet Maria, the lead mechanic at the Deptford workshop. You can find her at her stand, building bikes most of the time and making sure daily operations run smoothly down in Deptford. We had a chat with Maria about her experience at The Bike Project so far and her love for cycling…
Learn a basic care routine for your bike and give it love often, then take it for a proper check up to your trusted local mechanic once a year. Your bike will be happy forever.
How long have you worked at The Bike Project?
I started as a freelance mechanic in 2017, I used to be a Cycling Instructor for all those years, but when the pandemic started, teaching stopped. It was then that I joined the family full time in 2020.
What drew you to The Bike Project’s mission?
I have always enjoyed doing active jobs and fixing things, and if you add to that the fact that you are helping people, it makes it a very meaningful job. It is important to me that I can do something that contributes to society, and what we do here helps both people and the environment.
Why do you think the work The Bike Project does is important?
People that is uprooted from their homes and arrives here through very difficult and often traumatic ways doesn’t get enough support from the government. What we do is a small but significant step towards helping people that needs most. Through cycling they can build a stronger mental health, make new connections with people and most importantly give them a mode of transport.
What’s been your favourite thing about working with The Bike Project?
The team that we have built is amazing, I feel very lucky every day to share my work with such honest, hardworking and fun people. If you add to that the fact that we are helping others, it’s wonderful!
Is there a particular memory or milestone that is special to you?
The transition from being a freelancer to joining the team full time was pretty special, it felt like it was a long time coming, and finally being here every day meant that I could start building a stronger connection to the team.
Has anything surprised you?
Seeing the work that the volunteers do always surprises me, it’s really inspiring to see people giving their free time to us to help get more bikes out there.
What’s your favourite cycling memory?
I have a terrible sense of direction and get lost often, my best memories are finding really beautiful streets when lost. Sadly I can never go back as I don’t remember how I got there!
In a perfect world, how would refugees be supported in the UK?
This is a very complex question. I think that the government needs to have a team of fully dedicated people with expertise in different areas to look at the wider picture, but we need to start with giving them basic rights. Right to stay, access to housing, food, help learning the language, etc. We need to help them become functioning members of society, were they can be independent and make a connection to their new home.
Thanks for chatting Maria!