Refugees are being given new hope, thanks to a bicycle repair business set up by an Oxford-born cyclist.

Jem Stein’s social enterprise The Bike Project teaches refugees to repair and restore old bikes.

And once they have finished doing one up, they are given it, along with a free helmet, lock and lights.

Mr Stein, whose family live near Abingdon Road, collects second-hand, abandoned bikes from Oxford City Council and the Metropolitan Police to help refugees in the capital.

He is a qualified bike mechanic and since setting up his business in March, he and two colleagues have repaired 180 bikes. Refugees from Somalia, The Congo, Nigeria, Algeria, Iran and former Soviet countries have taken advantage of the scheme. His business target is to refurbish 300 bicycles in the first trading year.

He said: “Refugees coming to this country face terrible persecution and difficulties and are often not allowed to work.

“They find themselves in a very difficult situation and one of the obstacles they face is trying to get anywhere. London’s transport system is so expensive, so a bicycle is a great, free way to get around.

“Under this scheme, they fix up their own bicycle then cycle off on it.

“They are more independent and empowered as a result.”

Mr Stein, 26, was selected for the Lloyds Bank Social Entrepreneurs programme last year, which included a cash grant of £4,000 plus business mentoring.

The former Magdalen College School pupil came up with the idea after meeting refugees while studying at the London School of Economics.

He said: “I grew up in Oxford where bikes are used as day-to-day transport and I still cycle everywhere.

“We are incredibly grateful to Oxford City Council for donating a lot of bikes to us that they find abandoned.

“The business is funded by a mixture of donations and a repair service it offers to firms with employees who bring in bicycles to the office.

“We turn up with a van and tools and they give us their bikes and we have them repaired and ready by the time they want to cycle home.”