The story of LCEF - And how it works

Welcome to the LCEF!

The goal of the London Courier Emergency Fund is to provide support and financial help to those bicycle couriers who have suffered an injury whilst at work.

Most bicycle couriers are classified as self-employed sub-contractors for tax purposes and, as such, are not entitled to any kind of sick pay. So when a messenger is injured, they will not earn. Given the obvious perils of bicycle delivery, there is always a chance that couriers will be forced to take some time off the road due to injury suffered at work at some time during their courier life. If this happens to you, we may be able to provide you with some help.

Check the In Case Of Accident section for more information on making a claim with the LCEF.


How it all started.

“It was the first alleycat (courier street race) I organised. I was riding for Metro at the time. The plan was to put on an old-school cat that basically meant start and finish at Warner St and throw in a few classic standby checkpoints. It was a Monday, and I was a little nervous gearing up towards the kick-off on Friday. It’s quite a responsibility when you think about it. The race was designed to be short and fast.

Monday afternoon, bad news dropped off. Ephraim’s been hit. Under a truck on Moorgate. Rumours swelled, and the word was he was a goner. Fuck! Panic on the streets. Another rider the very same day, Chewy, also got hit by a truck but escaped with his life, which was remarkable given the state of his bike. Maybe one of the hubs was salvageable.

My co-rider at Metro, Big Jos, suggested we should do a fundraising cat for them both. Pikey Wayne will throw one on Saturday too. This was to be – we didn’t know it at the time – the genesis of the LCEF. There’s a short film about it.

The Friday night cat pulled in a hefty amount of cash. Buffalo Bill was sitting on a pile leftover from previous LBMA fundraisers (London Bicycle Messenger Association). We’re building something. Along with Pikey’s Saturday cat, we’d collected a grand altogether. Steph had an idea that she’d been talking about for a while.

We have enough to start something here….” Words by Overdrive

So, we got some cash left over from these couple of alleycats after helping out Ephraim and Chewy. And we’re thinking of starting our own fund. I remember talking about this back in the days of the Duke (Duke of York on Clerkenwell Road, a local pub popular with couriers in the late ’90s and early ’00s), but that initial meeting took place in that little room at the Foundry (another popular hang out at the corner of Old St. and Great Eastern St.), the one were all the couriers would pile in on a Friday night, stack their bags, settle for a pint and chat the evening away.
Not sure how we got the word out, that was before social media and group chat, but somehow, quite a few of us got together and got talking…

To cut the story short, we came up with the name of our newly funded organisation, the London Courier Emergency Fund, we decided to use Xander’s design from the fundraising alleycat and that logo, which has been updated over the years, has been our trademark for the past decade.
This fund would loosely follow the guidelines of the BMEF (Bicycle Messenger Emergency Fund) to manage accident claims and allocate emergency payouts.

So we were set. We needed some riders who would be actively involved, develop the fund and do the leg work.
Our first committee had 6 members, including myself, Overdrive, Dazzler, Pedro, Little John and Pikey.

Some of the original LCEF committee members 10 years later – Darren, Stephanie, Pedro, Ephraim and Overdrive

Now, that’s a lot of conflicting personalities here, and some meetings would end up in a screaming match with a heavy dose of chest-thumping.
But somehow, we managed to get things going and help couriers that got injured, get all the admin done, organise some fundraising events, sell merchandise and get support from the wider messenger community.

Although, we had to let Pikey go fairly early on as his late Friday night urinating on fakenger’s bikes was not good PR for our newly formed organisation.

Over the years, committee members came and went depending on their personal circumstances and how much time they could be bothered dedicating to the LCEF.
Chandra joined us for a while, as well as Ephraim, Sax, Vojtech and Apryl.

In 2013, the few committee members who remained all gave their notice that life was taking them in another direction, and I ended up in charge of the fund.
It’s alright, though…plenty of folks had stepped up when I needed them to organise bigger events or brought their skills to fundraising projects.

And, of course, the continued support of the worldwide messenger community, as well as, the wider cycling community, has enabled me to keep the fund going and healthy, so we have been able to offer financial assistance to every London courier who has put in a genuine claim in the past 10 years….long may it continue. Words by Stephanie.


Where does funding for the LCEF comes from

Helping couriers who fall on hard times after injuries caused on the job does not come cheap, and to keep any funds going, you need to keep on putting money in the kitty.

When we started the fund, our first fundraising idea was to get merchandise printed and sell it, which turned out pretty good.
The LCEF – London caps have sold in their hundreds all over the world, and they are still very popular. More garments were duly stamped with our logo after that and we have now a wide range of sizes, styles and colours to appeal to all our supporters.

Our merchandise is now sold online (check our webshop on this website for our full range:) and at local/ international courier events. I’m always touched by how much support the LCEF is getting from the international mess fam.

Donations from individuals and groups/organisations have also enabled us to keep afloat over the years. From monthly individual donations to large one-off offerings, all donations are greatly appreciated.

London’s Calling, our yearly weekender, used to be our biggest fundraiser. The first edition was in 2007 as the pre-event to the world champs in Dublin and our last one was in 2015. Very popular with local couriers and the wider cycling community, the 3-days event was a mix of racing, partying and general loitering that brought us all together and gave a boost to the LCEF bank account.

Smaller regular events like the Donkey Derby and alleycat races also brought in the pennies.
The Donkey Derby nights were hosted in collaboration with the Rollapaluza crew, who let us have all their fancy equipment once in a while so couriers-only gold sprints could happen as a homage to the roots of the organisation.
These nights were usually held upstairs at the Horseshoe pub on Clerkenwell Close until the landlady did the flooring up, and she didn’t want us messing it all up with our clickety shoes…good times.

But the most fun and probably the most time-consuming and stressful way to raise funds was putting together the courier calendar. Started in 2006 with local couriers, we managed to print out a few editions with a European version in 2013 and a couple of international ones…opening emails with pictures of couriers in the nude was the highlight, chasing them to get those pictures on time, not so much.

So all in all, it’s been a lot of work and effort but it was all worth it. We’ve never had to turn down a courier in need with a genuine claim so thanks to all of you who have supported us for the past 10 years and made it all possible ??

Anyone can help with fundraising. We would love to hear from anyone with any ideas or initiatives that could help strengthen the fund, whether it be organising an event, making a personal donation, sponsorship ideas or anything else that you think could support us.

Who gets what?

Over the past 10 years, the LCEF has supported financially, morally and legally a bunch of riders.
Like the demographic of the courier community, we’ve helped out a varied group of messengers. Two of the requirements to make a claim with the LCEF is that you must have been injured whilst at work and be off for more than 2 weeks ( as we get paid weekly in London, if you’d crash on a Wednesday, you’d still have money coming in on that Friday and if your injury wasn’t too serious, that would tie you over until you get back on the bike a few days later).
But most of the riders we have helped have had serious injuries and were off work between 3 and 6 weeks, sometimes longer. It takes time for broken bones to heal and riding with a broken collarbone is not ideal so allowing people to have that extra week off to get better without stressing about ££ is our main aim.

When we started and funds were still low, we’d give out a £150 emergency payout. It happened a few times that a rider would get back to us and ask for more if he would be off for a longer period or be really skint. For the past few years, our emergency payout is £300, which is a relief to riders who sometimes get in touch once all their savings are gone, they’ve just got back on the road and the rent still needs to be paid, like today.

On average we have helped out 15 riders/year over the past 10 years.

But we haven’t only helped individuals..when we had the good fortune to raise enough funds or get an extremely generous donations, we have been keen to help other funds, organisers of messenger events and organisations.

The sale of the LCEF courier calendars published for a few years contributed to other messenger funds, some of the proceed also went to the organisation of the ECMC (European Cycle Messenger Championships) and the CMWC (Cycle Messenger World Championships).

We have also donated to the IWGB, the Union which support cycle couriers and others to get recognition and better working conditions.

The LCEF also supported One Life Cycle, London courier Matt’s cycling team in their endeavor to race fixies all over the world and get the youth into cycling.

The LCEF is you so keep it going..support us so we can support others.




Stephanie Bartczak (Papillon)



6 thoughts on “About

  1. Hey Stephanie we met at ECMC 2009 Berlin i hope doing well and hope to meet each other
    with love and respect your rock 666 from zürich Switzerland

  2. […] The next adventure By thatmessengerchick In exactly a week, these four reprobates will be riding from Lands End to Leather Lane (that’s in London), to raise money for the LCEF. […]

  3. I want to thank for your help who has obtained from you, it’s very helped raise up and get back to work after two breaks these months
    Thank you again for your help

  4. Hi, just wanted to say thank you for the wonga. It’s been a great help, and has halted my decline into depression, as I have watched my wrist go through three casts, acquire to large holes and one giant screw, in three weeks. Thanks again and keep up the good work!

  5. Hi LCEF,

    I’m writing an article about bike couriers – i trailed chandra round for a day, she works for creative – and i wonder if you can help me with a few qs?

    firstly, when was lcef set up? how many ppl, approx, do you think you help a year? what’s the average payment you give them? do you ever run out of cash? and how much do you think you raise in a year?

    if you don’t want to answer any of these that’s fine, though any info you can give me would be very helpful!



  6. Hi! Thanks a lot to LCEF, who helped me big time when I had nowhere else to turn to, following a kneecap fracture. No complications, quick resolution, awesome work and so necessary for all of us couriers! Thanks again and hope I can retribute one day soon.

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