Crowdfunding appeal to send Hackney’s stolen bikes to needy Gambian children

Youngsters in the Gambia with a bike shipped out by Hackney cadets.

Youngsters in the Gambia with a bike shipped out by Hackney cadets. - Credit: Archant

Police cadets in Hackney hope to raise £5,000 through crowdfunding to send mountains of unclaimed stolen bikes to the Gambia, where they will be given to children struggling to get to school.

The group of 13-18 year olds who meet once a week at Forest Road youth club hope to ship hundreds of bikes, whose owners cannot be traced, to what is one of Africa’s smallest and poorest nations where 29 per cent of the population is chronically undernourished.

A group of 12 cadets will also travel out in January to meet the recipients and teach them basic mechanic lessons to ensure they can keep the bikes roadworthy.

The project began in 2012, when the cadets raised enough money by bag packing in supermarkets and by completing a sponsored bike ride to send a container filled with 300 bikes over.

Youth co-ordinator, PC Tom Morris, said the young people are always “massively grateful”.

“It’s a life changing thing for them, education is something we take for granted here, but many children will have to travel 20 miles to get to school there.

“Without a bike they would have to get a bush taxi which can work out really expensive for them, so many of them don’t even go to school.

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The projects also benefits the cadets who go, many of whom are also from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Mr Morris said: “They will see a completely different culture and way of life from their own, and get to experience working with people in Africa.

“This opportunity is one that most would never get to experience at any other time and one that will shape their attitudes and perceptions for the rest of their lives, making them into better and more well-rounded individuals.”

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