Summer feels like a loooong time ago, eh?
It’s dark outside and the windows are misted up with rain. Our tans have faded and even our steely thighs have turned to jelly.
As all but the freshest or most cursory reader will know, I’m one of the infamous community of cyclists that make up Thighs of Steel and every year I help organise what is almost certainly Europe’s longest charity bike ride.
Last summer, our 93 cyclists not only rode 5,428km from Glasgow to Athens, but also raised a record-breaking (for us) £114,632 in solidarity with grassroots refugee projects through charity MASS Action.
I know that many TDCN readers contributed to the pot, so thank you: £114,632, including £12k in Gift Aid, is such a significant amount of money.
It means that MASS Action have been able to give a big YES to no fewer than sixteen solidarity projects, covering pretty much every aspect of the movement for migrant social justice:
- Community centres offer everything from nourishing meals and legal support to bus tickets and hot showers in Thessaloniki (Wave Thessaloniki), Samos (Just Action) and Athens (Khora)
- Several projects provide accommodation or work to improve living conditions in Sheffield (ASSIST Sheffield), Glasgow (Scottish Asylum Seekers Resident Association) and Athens (Chamomile and Mazi x FORGE For Humanity)
- The Babylon Project offers drama, storytelling, film-making and dance in the UK, while Musikarama connects people through music in Athens
- Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group supports people during and after immigration detention
- Hakoura Organic is an ecological cooperative farm established by refugees in the countryside northwest of Athens
- No Evictions Network, No Borders Network and Calais Migrant Solidarity take direct action to support the rights, safety and dignity of people on the move in the UK and France
- In Scotland, LGBT UNITY is a peer support group made up of LGBTQIA+ refugees and asylum seekers in Glasgow and Bike For Refugees runs cycling community hubs in Glasgow and Edinburgh
Phew! Hard to believe what a couple of months’ cycling can achieve.
It’s so significant that we couldn’t even display every project on one pie chart, so please hurry along to The Reason and read more about what all that money is doing out in the world.
And — YES — this isn’t even the whole pie. There’s still £7,445.23 for MASS Action to distribute after this summer’s ride, wherever the need is greatest.
Sorry, did somebody say ‘this summer’s ride’?
Once again, we’ll be facilitating the highlight of your summer, starting in Glasgow on 14 July and finishing a continent later in Athens on 17 September.
We open for signups on Friday 17 February at 6pm — but ONLY if you’re on our special secret early access email list.
The most popular weeks sell out minutes after going live, so get on it!
Humanity is a team game. We don’t have to do it all — we can’t — but we can choose to play our part.
I’m lucky that my part, right now, is to help put on a bike ride that makes space for others to shine — not only the ninety-odd cyclists who surprise themselves with their own strength, but also the people and projects making change happen on the ground.
Everything we do in life either brings us one step closer together or pushes us further apart.
Go Team Human.