People experiencing homelessness to provide bikes to nurses in Gambia

published on 1 Feb 2016

Service users at Booth House Lifehouse, a residential centre run by the Salvation Army that supports local people experiencing homelessness, have teamed up with local charity, Empower the Gambia, to provide serviced mountain bikes, to be sponsored, for nurses in rural Gambia.

From Booth House, the Salvation Army runs Recycles, a social enterprise which sells refurbished bikes, offers cycle repair and servicing, a cycle hire scheme and cycle maintenance courses for local people. Recycles offers training, skills and work experience to service users of Booth House, who are involved in all aspects of running the enterprise.

The partnership with Empower the Gambia will enable the Recycles team to send mountain bikes to Sara Kunda Medical Centre. The centre has 12 nurses who serve 16 villages in rural Gambia. Currently they have to walk up to five kilometres to reach their patients, often several times a day. There are no tarmac roads and in the rainy seasons the tracks are often impassable.

Through involvement in this partnership, the service users at Booth House will be applying their skills of bike maintenance and servicing, working to tight deadlines. This opportunity will provide them with valuable life and employability skills, equipping them to rebuild their lives.

Joshua Robson, Recycles volunteer, said: “I had everything and I lost it all, so to be a part of something small but ends up so big gives me joy and happiness when I have none.”

Emma Hambidge, Social Enterprise Programme Co-ordinator said: “This partnership between Recycles and Empower the Gambia enables our volunteers, who have experienced homelessness, to not only gain work experience and develop skills building the bikes but also the opportunity to make a positive contribution to a wider global community. Our aim, through all of the work that we do at Recycles, is to push the perceptions of people who are experiencing homelessness. Here, we see people daily who are committed to turning their lives around, learning and developing new skills and experiences supporting them to move on to live happy and fufilled lives".

Jo Heaven, Founder and Chair of Empower the Gambia said: “Empower the Gambia is excited to be working with Recycles to provide mountain bikes for our 12 Village Health Nurses in the Sara Kunda district of Gambia. These nurses have to travel by foot on rough tracks to reach their remote villages so bikes will mean greater coverage, efficiency and ultimately could save lives".

The partnership are appealing for sponsors for each bike that is sent to nurses, at £45 per bike.  This will include the provision of training a local technician in Gambia to maintain the bikes for the nurses. To sponsor a bike and receive a certificate and information pack on the Village Health Nurse and the work they do then please visit: Recycles, Booth House, 1 Spring Close, Swindon, SN1 2BF or The Emporium of Loveliness (Empower the Gambia Charity Boutique), 45 Commercial Road, Swindon, SN1 5NX. Alternatively, please email:   Telephone: 07771 804 365 or visit: