Portsmouth Cycle Forum

Portsmouth Cycle Forum

Portsmouth Cycle Forum is a group for anyone who cycles, or wants to cycle, in and around Portsmouth UK.

#WeRidePortsmouth - Jacqueline

#WeRidePortsmouth - Jacqueline

For the March feature, we’ve partnered with Sustrans to share Jacqueline’s story. Jacqueline, who came to the UK seeking asylum from El Salvador with her parents and younger brother, was moved from London to Portsmouth - a city where they knew no one.

She explored the city by walking as public transport was not an affordable option for her. That was until Jacqueline was provided a bike by Sustrans’ Welcome Wheels project, which gave her a key to freedom.

Cycling has not only allowed her to navigate the city safely and for free, but has given her opportunities to learn, meet people and to make a positive difference in her local community.

Jacqueline, who now volunteers with Sustrans, is a talented musician with an ambition to find a music-related job in the future.

Jacqueline says:

My bike gives me the freedom to do everything I want to do. I couldn’t manage without it. Before, I had no choice, I had to walk everywhere. Buses and trains were too expensive.

I’d have volunteering in the morning and my English class at 1pm and I didn’t have enough time to get between them.

As soon as I got my bike I felt more independent, especially at night. In the dark, I feel much safer on my bike than walking on my own. My bike is my friend.

I did find it scary at first having to cycle next to big buses, but the training really helped me to feel confident on busy roads.

I love going cycling with my family at weekends. Being out on my bike makes me feel good and I have more energy. We ride to places like the Hilsea Lines, which I found out about through Sustrans. Being out there gives me a break from everything in the week.

Some of my friends have also had bikes from Welcome Wheels, and we all feel cycling gives us freedom to see each other. We can meet up in the evening without worrying about how we will get home.

Doing all the activities I do all over the city and talking to new people means my English is getting much better. That helps me feel more at home here. I feel like Portsmouth is my home now.

From the PCF Team

We appreciate Jacqueline for sharing her story, and we thank the Sustrans Welcome Wheels project for allowing us to feature it in #WeRidePortsmouth.

Sustrans Welcome Wheels project supports refugees and people seeking asylum in Portsmouth with free cycles, road safety training and cycling equipment. So far, it has supported almost 90 people, allowing them to feel more integrated in their community.

The project is delivered in partnership with:

Tell us your story!

Would you like to share your story about ordinary people doing ordinary things on their bikes in the city? We’d love to hear from you! Get in touch at info@pompeybug.co.uk

Photo credit: J Bewley