More than 250 people in Rutland have now benefitted from a county-wide scheme that sees old bicycles repaired and given free of charge to local families.
Rutland County Council has been working with HMP Stocken on the ‘My Bike’ project after it was first launched in June 2017.
Since it began, more than 250 bicycles donated to the project or disposed of at local recycling centres have been reconditioned by prisoners, before being offered to individuals and families who don’t have a bike of their own.
The aim of the project is to help children, young people and adults into education, training, employment and recreation by giving them access to free sustainable transport.
The latest My Bike handover took place at Oakham Fire Station on Saturday 16 February, with 56 bikes given away.
“This project is based on a fantastic partnership between the council, HMP Stocken and the local community. Thanks to prisoners and staff at HMP Stocken, old and unwanted bikes of all types are being repaired and given a brand new lease of life. This opens up a whole range of possibilities for the people receiving bikes – helping to improve health and well-being, and providing sustainable transport for work and travel. The project also helps prisoners to learn new skills that could eventually lead to employment.”
Council Leader Oliver Hemsley
My Bike is coordinated by Rutland County Council and involves adult and children’s social services, as well as the council’s community safety team, local schools and colleges.
“This is a really positive project with lots of benefits, not least for the people who receive bikes. We can expect to get around 20 to 30 bikes a month from the recycling centres, with more now coming in from Rutland Cycling, who are also supporting the project. Some bikes in a really poor condition and need a lot of work while others are very good and might have just one or two parts missing. The restoration itself takes place in the workshops here at HMP Stocken and we have up to 40 prisoners involved at a time as part of our wider learning and skills programme. Some prisoners know absolutely nothing about bikes when they start the course but will eventually come out with a City & Guilds certificate in cycle maintenance. They put a huge amount effort into each restoration and when you ask them how they feel, knowing one of their bikes is going to help someone, you can see what it means to them.”
Neil Walsh, Workshop Instructor at HMP Stocken
Everyone who benefits from My Bike receives a reconditioned bike, adjusted for their age and height. Safety equipment and cycle training is also offered to families who receive bikes, with funding for bicycle helmets coming from the local Roger Begy Memorial Trust.
“The Roger Begy Memorial Trust are privileged to support such a fantastic initiative. My Bike is an amazing scheme, helping prisoners and local people alike. The efforts of council officers and all those at HMP Stocken must be applauded. We hope our help will allow the scheme to go from strength to strength.”
Nick Begy, Chairman of the Roger Begy Memorial Trust
If you have a bicycle you'd like to donate to My Bike, you can take it to one of recycling centres.