Bikes helping refugee families

Safer Mid Canterbury Volunteers Malcolm Dellow and daughter Matilda with Safer Mid Canterbury Volunteer co-odinator Wendy Hewitt with donated bikes and scooters for refugee families.

If you have an old bike or a few rusty scooters collecting dust in your shed the Ashburton refugee settlement support service would love to get their hands on them.

Volunteer Malcolm Dellow has been busy in his workshop transforming unwanted bikes into roadworthy, safe cycles for Afghanistan refugee families.

Safer Mid Canterbury volunteer co-ordinator Wendy Hewitt said they got the contract to run the refugee settlement programme in Ashburton in 2021.

“We started getting families in May last year, the Safer Mid Canterbury settlement team organise the housing, health and education and each family gets a team of volunteers to help them settle, like Malcolm.”

Malcolm who is semi-retired describes himself as the ‘odd job’ man.

“I just help fix bits and pieces.”

Malcolm heard about a similar bike scheme in Wellington.

“I heard on the radio that they were teaching refugee ladies how to ride bikes in Wellington, and all the bikes were donated and I thought that was amazing.

“It started off with the first family. I had a bike here, I thought I don’t need it, it was quite a good bike I’ll throw the bike in with the other things. That’s how it started,” he said.


Bikes donated for refugee families range from almost new ebikes to cycles that require a bit of work. Tinkerer Malcolm Dellow can make a complete bike out of parts from various bikes. But female bikes with the low bar are most wanted because the women often wore dresses.

“They tend to like ladies bikes rather than the unisex ones, we have a shortage of them,” Malcolm said.

Helmets are also needed but they can’t be second hand, so cash donations or new helmets are welcome.

Malcolm’s daughter Matilda is a family support volunteer with Safer Mid Canterbury.

“She delivers the bikes and drives the families to the supermarkets, she just loves it.”

Volunteer co-ordinator Wendy Hewitt said donated bikes gave the families a form of transport as many do not have their drivers licence yet.

“Every family or person getting a bike it immediately gives them independence and a mode of transport,” she said. Scooters are in demand with the kids.

“Most people throw their scooter away because the steering gets loose, they don’t realise it’s a quick job to fix,” Malcom said

Malcolm has been surprised at the people who have been most generous.

“It is often the people you lest expect to be interested, people who are on their bones of their bums themselves are the ones donating the most.”

Donated bikes, scooters, lawn mowers and garden tools can be dropped into Malcolm at 38 Hepburns Road or phone 027 475 4241.

Donations for new helmets can be given to Safer Mid Canterbury.

-By Daniel Tobin