Date Published: 30 June 2017
Families in Rutland are benefiting from a new county-wide scheme that sees old and damaged bicycles restored to full working order and given free of charge to people who need them.
Rutland County Council is working with HMP Stocken on the ‘My Bike’ project, where bicycles disposed of at the Council’s recycling centres are collected and reconditioned by prisoners, before being offered to members of the community who don’t have a bike of their own.
The aim of the project is to help children, young people, adults and families into education, training, employment and recreation by giving them access to free sustainable transport.
My Bike is coordinated by Rutland County Council’s Sustainable Transport Officer and involves adult and children’s social services, as well as the Council’s Community Safety Team, local schools and colleges. The emphasis is on supporting people who may have a low income, learning difficulties or poor mental health, as well as those undergoing recovery programmes or living in sheltered accommodation.
“Thanks to the prisoners and workshop staff at HMP Stocken we now have a process where old and unwanted bikes of all sizes can be reconditioned and given to individuals and families who might otherwise find it difficult to get one. This opens up a whole range of possibilities in terms of what these people can do, from improving their health and well-being through exercise to providing a form of free transport that puts work, education or training within reach. The project also helps prisoners at HMP Stocken who learn new skills that could eventually lead to employment.”
Mark Andrews, Deputy Director for People
"This is a really positive project, not least for the people who are getting bikes. 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, which is a recognised qualification that can help them into meaningful employment after they’re released. They’re also really proud of the work they do. 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, HMP Stocken Workshop Instructor
My Bike held its official launch event at Oakham Fire Station on Saturday 24th June with the first group of people to benefit from the scheme coming along to collect their bikes.
A total of 19 bikes were given out on the day, including five to a single family. The oldest bike recipient was 41 and the youngest was just three.
Everyone received a reconditioned bike, adjusted for their age and height, as well as a helmet, a bike safety kit and bike lock.
Each participant also attended free a cycle maintenance tutorial, had their new bike security coded by Leicestershire Police and took part in a basic bike handling assessment to get them ready to ride.
“This is fantastic project which involves a number of local public services, from the Council’s social workers, transport officers and recycling centre operatives through to prison staff, local police officers and the fire service. Working together we want to make sure that everyone in Rutland, regardless of their age or circumstances, has the opportunity own a bicycle that can get them where they want to go.”