Bridge 8 Hub, based in Wester Hailes, is set to take 15 young people on a Portuguese cycling challenge to raise money for a refugee charity and encourage understanding between different backgrounds.
The Bridge 8 Algarve Bike Challenge will be undertaken by 15 youngsters from Edinburgh, East Lothian, Clackmannanshire and Falkirk, who will undertake a strenuous 214km trek through the Ecovia do Litoral in just four days.
The youth group is made up of a mix of backgrounds and schools with students from Wester Hailes, Royal High, Boroughmuir and George Watson among others.
All their efforts will support the “fantastic work” of Bikes for Refugees (Scotland).
Bike for Refugees is a charity set up by Steven McCluskey, 59, which offers recycled, refurbished or newly donated bicycles to new Scots (asylum seekers and refugees).
Since its inception five years ago, they have supplied 1,700 bikes to various households across Scotland.
By participating in the cycle and the subsequent fundraiser, several students shared their feelings of mixing with other students and having access to a unique opportunity.
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Daniel, 15, from Westerhailes Secondary School, commented on his enthusiasm for the project saying, “I can’t wait to see new faces, make new friends and experience a whole new country. I think it will be a boost, but once completed I can say that I took part in a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Lisa Rogers, 15, from Royal High School, added: “I’m excited to take on a new challenge in something I haven’t really done before and to meet new people. I also look forward to seeing a new country and doing amazing things for New Scots.
While Finaly, 15, from George Watsons, said: “I am delighted to be part of this incredible opportunity and to meet new faces while making new friends and I believe this challenge will push me to my limits and I see how resilient I really am. a m.”
Sean Barry, who set up the Bridge 8 Hub, said the project will not only raise money for a great cause, but “teach our young people to better understand themselves and where they come from”.
Sean said: “Indeed Bridge 8 has been running these annual expeditions for a number of years where we have brought people together from across the city for trips to Canada, the Arctic Circle as well as some Scottish programs with the help of the Council and Sport Scotland.
“But this year, we decided to take a group of young people on the Acovia trail.
“We are trying to raise around £5,000 for Bikes for Refugees Scotland with the young people working hard to prepare for this trip, like everyone else at the Bridge 8 Hub.
“We raised the funds for the trip through a touch of sponsorship, but a lot of the money comes from our own profits.
“For me, that’s the real essence of young people. We have a large demographic and some of these young people could be influential when they are older and we want them to be active citizens, understanding of their neighbors and caring for each other.
“It’s about teaching humility and creating understanding. We must remember that there is learning in everything and room to grow.
“I’ve seen some of the participants who mix with other young people and get to know each other by learning about the backgrounds of their peers. It’s not about a postcode, it’s about all of us coming from Edinburgh and coming together to achieve great things.
“At the heart of what we do we try to ensure that children have the opportunity to do outdoor activities and this is our first trip abroad after covid. There are a lot of staff who have put a lot of effort into this and the youngsters have worked tirelessly to prepare physically and emotionally.
“We hope to raise the level of recognition for Steven from Bike for Refugees and hopefully provide some funding for them.
“If anyone is able to support our cause, please do so at the attached link. Any support is appreciated.
The trail the youngsters will venture on connects Cabo de São Vincente, on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, to Vila Real de Santo Antonio, on the Spanish border.
Along its route are the main monuments of the Algarve, such as Ponta da Piedade, the Ria Formosa Natural Park and many others.
The trail covers all types of terrain, from coastal paths and single tracks, to boardwalks, open rural roads and incredible forest trails.
Young people face a difficult physical and emotional challenge, which Sean hopes in some way mirrors the challenges faced by those going through the resettlement of isolated and socio-economically disadvantaged Nova Scotians (refugees/settlement seekers asylum).
Steven from Bikes for Refugees, commented on the young people’s efforts and said: “We have worked closely with Bridge 8 for a long time, we have supported each other over the years and this challenge in Portugal is a great example of that. .
“The 15 young people who are taking up this personal challenge both individually and collectively are incredible.
“All funds raised will go towards helping us provide more bikes to desperate New Scots and supporting more people in the future.
“New Scots often rely on bikes to attend medical appointments, language lessons or for other needs. Very few people realize that refugees do not receive benefits but are asked to live on just over £5 a day without being able to work.
“A bicycle gives them freedom and also opens up a whole new world of discovery for them.”
To support the Bridge 8 cycle campaign, please visit their GoFundMe page here.
To directly support Bikes for Refugees Scotland or to inquire about donating a bike, please visit their site here.