A GROUP of Syrian refugee women in Taunton have been learning to ride a bike to gain more independence and to integrate into their new community.

Volunteers from Taunton Welcomes Refugees worked closely with cycle charity Sustrans to get the women on two wheels.

The Sustrans officers in the town have been presented with certificates by Taunton Deane MP Rebecca Pow for 'outstanding contributions' for supporting and teaching the group.

Liz Bidmead, a Taunton Welcomes Refugees volunteer, said: "Take a group of Syrian refugee women, some who have never ridden a bike before but would like to learn.

"Add to the mix their determination to learn new skills, integrate and be independent. Finally introduce them to a volunteer who is a strong Sustrans advocate and magic happens.

"The patience, enthusiasm, encouragement to learn and improve, and the insightful teaching of the Sustrans team - who even hired a bike for one woman to use - has been outstanding.

"The whole group were immensely grateful to Sustrans and the volunteers who facilitated the joining of the two. One Syrian woman proudly said, 'The bruises were worth it'."

Taunton Welcomes Refugees recently celebrated its third birthday

Ruby Tobin, Sustrans Taunton project officer, said: "We’re really happy to have been invited to such a special evening and to have been able to support these wonderful women.

"We now look forward to doing some more bike safety awareness as part of their English classes."

The scheme is part of the Getting Around Taunton initiative, which works with workplaces, schools, community groups and residents across the south of Taunton to reduce traffic congestion and increase all modes of active travel.