The OCC Cycling Project has been designed to address the isolation of residents of the Nea Kavala refugee camp in Paionia, North Greece. The camp typically contains 500-750 displaced people, and is 4 km from the nearest town, Polykastro. The absence of suitable public transport means that residents struggle to access supermarkets, pharmacies and the local health centre. Having access to bicycles free of charge means that camp residents can access the amenities mentioned, as well as the community and social events beyond the camp. Open Cultural Center’s project in Polykastro offers English classes, women-only activities, sports and community events such as movie night. Availability of bicycles will improve the access of camp residents to these informal education, community-building, and integration activities, which have been designed with the local refugee and asylum seeker population in mind. There is abundant evidence of the negative effect of isolation on mental health (Watters, 2001), and so OCC Cycling will contribute to the wellbeing of camp residents, as well as the integration of camp residents into the local community.
The running of the project will involve assigning positions of responsibility to refugee and asylum-seeker volunteers, who will developing skills in bicycle maintenance, leadership, record-keeping and data entry and customer service.
Funded by Awesome Without Borders (April 2019)