Swinnow Community Centre has recently launched a bicycle donation scheme to benefit local people of all ages, writes Damon Sugden.
Centre manager Yvonne Allman, said people from the community have been asked to donate their spare and unwanted bicycles (just bikes, not scooters or go karts please) – of all sizes from toddlers up to adult bikes.
These can be donated in any condition – volunteers at the centre will recondition them back to a safe and usable standard.
These sessions are run every second Sunday, and bikes can also be brought in for basic repairs to get them straight back on the road.
People in need of a bike for their kids or themselves, are invited to apply to the centre’s bike scheme.
Availability is dependent on the bikes that are donated – Yvonne is currently organising a waiting list. Kids that are given bikes are shown how to wash them, and repair punctures.
This is important as they need to “earn” their bike and know how to look after it, before they are allowed to take it away.
Also any kid can drop in and learn the important basics of bicycle maintenance with onsite bike mechanic Tim Devereux.
Yvonne feels that not only do the kids deserve the chance to have a bike of their own but also the adult bikes will empower people to improve their lives.
The mend and make do ethos is also important for people’s life skills and sense of well being, but also great for the environment. She added:
“The donated bikes are dropped off, done up, the kids wash them and they learn to change the tyre, fix punctures, if they get stuck they can come back every second Sunday for help and advice from Tim.
“If the bike needs major repair it goes back to the repair shop. If they start to grow out of it, they can donate the bike back and we get them a bigger bike, so its continuous.”
Danuta Skarszewska collects the bikes, Councillor Mark Harrison (Cons, Pudsey) passes them to Jonathan Ambler and between them they repair them when they can.
Tim Devereux is managing the onsite walk-in repairs every fortnight. Yvonne added:
“Every month we are going to sell one high quality bike from the donated stock, so that we can put all the money towards the parts that are needed to fix the other bikes. We’ve just sold our first one, so that money will now help to buy new seats etc.
“We are finding that a lot of people are wanting stabilisers and they are costing us around £6 a pack, so if anyone who has unused ones in their garage they would be a brilliant thing to donate.”
Yvonne is also requesting donations of any spare good condition cycle helmets (need to be undamaged). They are also urgently in need of bike bells, reflectors, pedals and many of the basics to make the bikes road worthy. She added:
“We want the scheme to be self serving, if someone drops a bike off and somebody wants a bike they can get the bike, put a donation in, and can also purchase a bike helmet and spare puncture kits for a donation. That all goes back in to buying the parts for doing the bikes up.
“So far I’ve got a list of 15 people that are wanting a bike. And as you can see we’ve got people coming in off the streets getting their bikes repaired, they don’t always know how to fix the problem – so they get taught.”
Susan Deakins and Robbie Fryer brought Robbie’s own bike in for repair – as the chain was catching on the frame.
This was quickly remedied by Tim and Jonathan, and Robbie was soon back on his bike riding happily around the centre carpark.
“We just wanted a scheme where anybody that needed a bike (especially to help adults get to work) and they are walking because they can’t afford bus fares, if kids or adults need a bike they will get one – if they can demonstrate the need.
“As you can see it works – a lady has just come in off the park and asked for a toddler bike, and she’s managed to be able to pick one up. She is then going to donate her toddlers push bike. We are not bothered what age group or condition the bikes are in, please bring them along as they will all see some use.”
“GIVE A BIKE” scheme runs every second Sunday, the next one is Sunday 7th September.
All donations can be taken to Swinnow Community Centre, Swinnow Lane, LS13 4RF 9:30am to 4:30pm.Please ring for weekend donations: 0113 256 6576.
For more information, contact Yvonne Allman on firstname.lastname@example.org.