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Cyclists hit the road for refugees

22 September 20210 comments

A pair of UK cyclists have completed what is the world’s largest GPS artwork, riding more than 2000 kilometres to sketch out the message ‘Refugees Welcome’ across the south of England.

Georgie Cottle and David Charles set out on the challenge to raise funds for a UK refugee charity called ‘Choose Love’ collecting more than $100,000.

The pair, who took a month the complete the journey, broke the previous record of 761km.

“We chose to spell out ‘Refugees Welcome’ across this region because this is the biggest entry point for asylum seekers reaching the UK,” Ms Cottle said

“To finish the last letter in Dover felt very symbolic and sends a message of compassion to those arriving here,” she said.

The challenge is a response to the4 exodus of refugees from Afghanistan and also UK government’s draconian new plans to overhaul of the asylum system.

The new policies set the UK against the 1951 Geneva Convention by shutting down more of the few remaining legal routes to the UK.”

Ms Cottle said the challenges of the ride were outweighed by the response the pair had along the way.

“The south of England is hillier than you might think, so it’s certainly been a challenge” she said.

“I spent my 27th birthday cycling out the ‘O’ of in Welcome, so that was really cool.

“But the challenges have definitely been overcome by the amount of amazing people we’ve met on the route and we’ve had a further 35 people sign up to help us finish the challenge.

“Everyone’s been so supportive and even in places we haven’t been sure they’d support our cause, they really have.

“Normal people, like us, really do just want to help to try to do something to help people in need,” Ms Cottle told UK media.

On their fundraising social media page, the pair set out the reasons behind the challenge.

“The British government is trying to make it almost impossible for refugees to claim asylum in the UK,” they said.

“Home Secretary Priti Patel’s Nationality and Borders Bill is putting the UK in direct opposition to the 1951 Geneva Convention by shutting down even more legal routes to asylum in this country.

“That’s why we’re getting back on our bikes, cycling really hard and fundraising for grassroots organisations that offer refugees the welcome that our government withholds,” the page said.

The pair said they also had personal reasons for taking on the challenge.

“I have been a keen bean cyclist since I was 19 and found myself cycling the length of America, sort of by accident,” Ms Cottle said.

“Since then I have explored much of Scotland, Wales and New Zealand.

 “I now work with refugee and asylum seeker communities in Glasgow and it seems that people’s journeys are being made ever more difficult by governments here in the UK and in Europe,” Ms Cottle said.