“Tell me and I will forget; Show me and I may remember; Involve me and I will understand”, proverb that captures the essence of what the project is trying to achieve, James Lucas.
What is your job about?
It is a comprehensive, community bike project. We repair and relocate unwanted, and unused bikes in the Bristol area. Members of the public donate old bikes, we get some abandoned bikes from Temple Meads and rarely we get a few from the police. When a bike is brought in we check if it can be made roadworthy, or if it can’t be reused we would strip it down for parts. If a bike is vintage or could raise more money than most we would do it up and sell it to raise more funds for the project. Most bikes can be repaired and these are used for our Earn-a-Bike Programme. Disadvantaged, marginalised people including Asylum Seekers, and Refugees who may not have the confidence to get a bike or the funding, can be referred to us. During an Earn-a-Bike session, attendees get to fix up a bike with the support of a mechanic until it is roadworthy and it becomes their own bike. This empowers our attendees to learn new transferable skills, to gain a sense of achievement from fixing up their own bike, which they will gain ownership of.
What issues do you or did you address?
- Mobility, sustainability, diversion of waste, promotion of reuse
- Helping people to meet other people from their communities and socialise with them
- Misinformation about Asylum Seekers and Refugees
- Synergy between environment and human side of things
- Next year we hope to start our Future Plan programme which aims to target social isolation
What moved you to take action?
I went on a bike ride all the way to Norway, the time away made me realize how great the independence was and what a sense of freedom and wellbeing you got from riding a bike. A friend and myself talked about doing a project with bikes whilst we were there. When I got back I volunteered at Bristol Refugee Rights and it became apparent that mobility was a huge issue, people were spending a couple of hours walking to the centre and across the city and I saw the need. I began advertising for unwanted bikes. My work partner Colin had the mechanical skills and I was the drive behind the actioning.
What were the obstacles that you had to overcome?
- Space (at one point I had 15 bikes in my bedroom)/ Workshop space
- Balancing paid work and time investment into the project
- Energy levels and not trying to do too much.
What helped you keep going in hard times?
- I have a real belief in the project, and a strong belief in what is it enabling and empowering people to do
- The volunteers and all the great people who we work with and alongside
What first prompted you to become interested in environmental issues and when was that?
I have always been very people led and interested in improving social mobility and improving the lives of the people I am volunteering with. My interest in the environment has come out of this and I have become more passionate about it through the project.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being very happy) where would you rate how you feel about your life?