Coming Home: After 32,000 Miles Fighting Modern Slavery the World’s First Scooter and Sidecar Charity Expedition Approaches London
Current location: Germany, day 443
After traversing five continents, 31 countries, 32,000 miles and an eye-watering 443 days (and counting) travelling, the boys with the scooter and sidecar are finally completing their world first journey this Saturday 19th January at London’s Ace Café.
Matt Bishop and Reece Gilkes from Flight Centre first dreamt up the idea to circumnavigate the globe on a scooter and sidecar back in 2015, sat in their dingy London flat. After hours spent despairing over the state of the world and their inability to help, they decided the obvious solution was an Odyssean mission: an around the world trip across every environment imaginable to raise money and awareness for the fight against modern day slavery.
With Flight Centre on board to sponsor their journey, they decided there was no better way to travel the world than in the least suitable mode of transport, a scooter and sidecar. At the time, they had absolutely no idea how to ride a motorbike, let alone how to drive a scooter with a sidecar around the world.
Now in the final stages of their journey, they’ve battled temperatures as low as -40 degrees in Siberia, hitched rides from the police in Mexico and, just days from the end of their journey, suffered their most catastrophic breakdown yet, in freezing Poland. Despite their trials, the duo say it’s all been worth it to hear inspiring tales first-hand from those who have experienced modern day slavery, “with each visit, we learn of a new awful way this issue still exists, but we always leave inspired by the resourcefulness and the tenacity of the people fighting it”.
One such story came from Click, a normal Zimbabwean girl who found herself fighting as a Guerrilla soldier. A soldier who resigned, even though it meant prison. A talented artist, Click moved to Athens, only to be trapped as a slave for two years. This incredible woman achieved her dream and escaped imprisonment against all odds, becoming an inspiring artist and Ted talker. Incredibly, Click has gone on to free five other girls living in slavery, simply turning up in a taxi to rescue them and driving off. A truly tenacious lady.
Travelling through Kenya, Matt and Reece met Sophie and Jakob from HAART, a charity helping women exploited by traffickers. They explained that the problem doesn’t stop once women are rescued; the team began to hear rumours of sexual abuse in pre-existing safe houses in Nairobi. This, they couldn’t ignore, setting up an anonymous complaints service for vulnerable women. Sophie, herself a victim of human trafficking inspired the sidecar team with her passion in the face of injustice, “I’m going to mess with you if you mess with victims of trafficking”.
The sidecar team also wanted to expose modern day slavery in locations commonly thought to be emancipated. One such place is modern day Dallas, Texas. Priya and Michelle from New Friends, New Life explained that 400 girls are trafficked on the Dallas streets every night. They told harrowing tales of American girls trafficked from the surrounding rural areas by older men, posing as boyfriends. The girls arrive in Dallas expecting to start a new life with their boyfriend, but instead, they find themselves forced in to a life of prostitution, swept across the US until they are untraceable.
The money raised by the pair will be donated to a diverse range of charities, which fight modern day slavery, with Unseen UK, Utopia 52 in France and HAART Kenya just a selection. The full list of partners can be found here.
The pair will be returning to England on Saturday the 19th of January at the Ace Café, where they’ll be welcomed home with a drink or two to celebrate the world’s first circumnavigation of the globe in a scooter and sidecar.
To learn more about the expedition, or to donate to the cause, visit https://asseenfromthesidecar.org/pledges/ and follow @Asseenfromthesidecar on Facebook, @SeenfromSidecar on Twitter or @as_seen_from_the_sidecar on Instagram.
For further press information, please contact:
Hannah Carlisle/Emma Arthurs
T: +44 (0)20 3440 8924
E: [email protected]
About the Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG)
The Flight Centre Travel Group (fctgl.com) is one of the world’s largest travel companies with over 18,000 staff and 2500 stores across its leisure, corporate and wholesale businesses. The company’s turnover in 2014/2015 financial year was £9 billion. After starting with one shop 30 years ago, FCTG has enjoyed remarkable growth and is one of the top 100 publicly listed companies on the Australian Securities Exchange.
All specialist brands under the FCTG Corporate banner offer 24/7 support and the benefits of a blended offline/online solution; global negotiation strength and unique and superior business travel products.
About Flight Centre
The team at Flight Centre are experts when it comes to travel and are committed to providing customers with a great experience. The company’s success comes down to its people, experienced Travel Experts who are passionate about finding their customers the holiday they want, for the price they want.
Since establishing the first Flight Centre store in 1995, the business has grown its team of Travel Experts to include over 80 stores within the United Kingdom, with new stores opening regularly. Worldwide, Flight Centre has an amazing 2,500 stores across the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, United States, Canada and more, making Flight Centre one of the largest and most successful independent travel retailers in the world. With its global reach and close relationships with the world’s best travel providers, the company is able to provide competitive travel deals.
The Flight Centre team can organise anything from flights and hotels, car hire, tours, travel insurance, visas and more to tailor make the perfect holiday. They also have dedicated First and Business Class flight teams and Business Travel teams to help with any specialised travel needs.