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Teaching refugees to cycle with confidence

Written on: 13 Oct 2017
Author: Anna Chapman

How do you teach something that you find instinctive?

That’s the question Leila asked when she started volunteering at our Women’s Project, which teaches refugee women how to ride a bike with confidence.

“When I started helping out, I was struck by how supportive the environment was. But I found as a cyclist that it was quite challenging to break down how to ride.”

Cycle Confident offered The Bike Project a place on a 4 day training course to become an NSI Cycle Instructor. Leila was the perfect candidate.

“As a car driver you have a driving test, but there isn’t really a cycling equivalent. It was quite an exhausting 4 days but it really helped my confidence. As soon as I had completed the course, I could work as a fully qualified instructor.”

Combined with this formal training and her own experiences of gaining confidence in cycling, Leila is now an absolute cycling guru, empathising with the women’s fears and helping nurture their skills.

Leila’s cycling journey

“My own journey began when I learned to ride as a child. As a teenager I rode a bit, but as an adult I wasn’t cycling. About 8 years ago, I got in with a group of friends who rode everywhere, and I was having to catch up with them by bus! They had something good going on and I wanted to be part of it. I grew up in London, but the idea of riding here was quite intimidating to me.”

After taking some cycle sessions provided by her borough, Leila learned how important training is to confidence. “Since those sessions, I’ve cycled everywhere!”

Now that she’s fully qualified, we employ Leila as an instructor. She’s grateful that Cycle Confident gave her the opportunity, and so are we – along with all of the people she helps train.

“The sense of achievement at the Women’s Project is palpable  – the sessions are always rewarding, every week it surprises me when someone starts pedalling.  It reminds me each time why I do it – it’s a privilege to part be part of that.

“Last week, one of the women in our group, who had been quite quiet, said as she left, “It was such a great session, I feel like I’m 16 again.”

The post Teaching refugees to cycle with confidence appeared first on The Bike Project.

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