Two cycling enthusiasts will embark in a 240-mile bike-packing trip across Scotland to help change people’s perspective on refugees.

Glasgow-based friends Michael Thain, 26, and Toby Rosier-Tucker, 24, will be cycling the Caledonia Way from Glasgow to Inverness to raise awareness of the issues facing refugees in Scotland.

They also set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for Refuweegee, a Glasgow charity that aims to provide a “warm welcome to forcibly displaced people” arriving in the city. 

Michael, who works in customer service, said: “We live in a place where the motto is ‘People Make Glasgow’ but sometimes it's easy to concentrate on the people that are from here, and forget about the people that are joining the city.

“The refugee crisis is something that easily goes unnoticed. As we live our comfortable lives, thousands of brave individuals and families make the dangerous decision to travel in search of a better life.” 

Michael said he recognised how easy it is for anyone who has never emigrated to make assumptions: “It's about changing opinion, it's so easy to judge people for coming to this country,” he said. 

HeraldScotland:

“I understand why people would have the view of 'why are they coming here', and have negative perceptions of immigrants.

“But when you lay it down to the pure fact of what you would do for your family, the lengths that you'd go through...I'd go to the end of the world to find a good life for my family.” 

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Michael is originally from Peterhead and said multiculturalism was the most exciting aspect of moving to the city. 

He said his own experience led him to reflect on the importance of making people feel welcome to become members of the local community.  

The two friends, who share a passion for cycling, were planning a bike-packing trip last year, but they were limited by travel restrictions. 

Now that the lockdown in Scotland is easing, they set a start date for May 7, when they will cycle west, towards Tarbert, and then head north along the Caledonia Way. 

They hope to complete the journey in 4 days, cycling 60 miles a day. But Michael stressed he and Toby are not professional cyclists: “I used to commute to work every day before the home-working situation,” he said. 

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“Last summer during the lockdown it was something that I really enjoyed, doing about 20, 30 miles a day, going to Loch Lomond and back.”

“But it’s always just been for the enjoyment of it, this is the longest distance I have ever done.”

Michael met Toby two years ago, and they have been close friends since. 

HeraldScotland: Alamy Live News. PC66PT Glasgow, Scotland, on 31 July 2018. Rally in Buchanan Street, in support of refugees facing eviction by private housing company Serco. Serco announced this week that they would begin to evict asylum seekers who have had their appli

He described his friend as one of the nicest, most compassionate people he knows, and a “very caring guy, the type of person to always be in touch if you need anything.”

Toby, who is a fourth-year engineering student, will complete his final exams right before the trip. 

“He’ll be looking forward to that day in different ways, it's very exciting for him,” said Michael. 

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The two had initially set a target of £100, which was surpassed in less than 24 hours. They have now raised more than £400 for the charity. 

“It's just amazing the support that we're getting, and so I had to re-evaluate the target,” said Michael. “We're just absolutely over the moon that people are supporting a cause we care about.”

HeraldScotland: Selina Hales, founder of Refuweegee, with some of the donations and cards for those in need Picture: Robert Perry

Refuweegee director Selina Hales said: "We think what Michael and Tody are doing is amazing and couldn't be more timely given recent announcements by Priti Patel.

“We are dependent on people like Michael and Toby in raising critical funds and awareness.

“We wish them all the best on their journey and are looking forward to seeing their updates."

You can donate to the initiative at Michael’s and Toby’s GoFundMe page.