09/26/2012 (press release: OnlinePR)
Halfords is investing in a new scheme to help disadvantaged, unemployed Londoners get back on their bikes and cycle their way into a permanent job.
The Cycle Into Work programme, run by London-based, social enterprise company, Bikeworks, has been devised to help jobless residents of inner London gain training, work experience and the chance of a proper job.
The cycle store’s initial investment will deliver eight ‘Build A Bike’ and two ‘Cycle Into Work’ courses in the capital. Halfords has also pledged to employ the ten most accomplished City & Guilds trained candidates.
Bikeworks uses bicycles and cycling as a tool to tackle social and environmental challenges at a community level. Since opening up in Tower Hamlets, East London in 2008 they have been delivering innovative community cycling initiatives across the capital. Thousands of people have learned to cycle for the first time on renovated bicycles which have been given a new lease of life, while many disadvantaged and homeless people have gained the necessary skills to apply for jobs in the cycling industry.
Since starting in 2009, 60 people have successfully graduated from Bikeworks ‘Cycle into Work’ work-based training programmes for young homeless people. Many adults, not in education or employment, are able to move forward through vocational bike mechanic and retail training with a supported personal development programme.
Highly trained in store colleagues play a crucial role for Halfords. The retailer’s investment will deliver eight Build A Bike programmes. By teaching disadvantaged, unemployed young adults how to build a road bike or mountain bike, students learn useful practical skills and keep their bikes at the end of the course.
The most promising candidates are being given the opportunity to attend one of two Halfords funded Cycle Into Work programmes which consist of a 13 week City & Guilds Level 2 course in cycle maintenance and include three weeks work experience at a Halfords superstore. The courses began earlier this month and the aim is to have the top ten graduates employed by Halfords across London, from September.
Halfords HR Director, Jonathan Crookall said: “Our partnership with Bikeworks meets our community objectives and is another step towards our vision of becoming the best bike shop in town by delivering a knowledgeable, skilful and competitive cycle repair service.”
Co-managing Director, David Miller said: “We are delighted Halfords is committed to working with us to deliver our programme.”
Notes to Editors:
Bikeworks Case Study
Sam Whiteley, 24, from Camden, London, left school at 14 and embarked upon a career of alcohol induced violence and petty crime. He’s now a full-time cycle mechanic and credits Bikeworks with transforming his life.
“I just stopped going to school at 14 and to be honest I think they were glad to see the back of me ,” says Sam. “I had no discipline and wouldn’t listen to anyone. He went on to be arrested “eight or nine times, mostly for violence”.
The first time he was just 12 years old and was arrested after smashing a window because he was bored. The last time was 18 months ago. “I was always getting into fights, as well as a bit of theft. I was involved with gangs and I would drink and then if someone annoyed me I would just wind myself up until I exploded with anger.
“My mum is a single parent and she was working full-time and also trying to look after my younger sister. I don’t believe in blaming my background, school or any of that stuff for how I ended up. It was just down to me, some people take a long time to grow up and I took longer than most.”
So why isn’t Sam languishing in a jail somewhere right now? He says it is all because of Bikeworks.
After his last arrest for damaging a taxi after a drunken row with the driver, he was on remand in Pentonville for four months, “it scared the life out of me,” he admits. He received a big fine, a suspended sentence and was put on probation for a year. His probation officer told him about Bikeworks and he joined a three-month training course.
“I finished the course on a Tuesday and by the following Monday I was working for SERCO who run the London Barclays Bike Hire scheme.” He has been employed for four and a half months fixing the hundred or so Boris bikes that come in for repair every day at the SERCO HQ in Islington. He sounds like he still can’t quite believe it – and he isn’t the only one. “Everyone is amazed at how I have turned my life around. I think a lot of people – including my mum – never thought I would even make it to this age. I have been stabbed, bottled, stamped on and done pretty violent things to others.”
He has a six year old daughter from a previous relationship and thinks talking to her from prison during his last incarceration helped bring him to his senses. “Before Bikeworks, in the whole ten years since I left school I had only ever had one job for a fews months before I messed it up by being late and getting into trouble. I had just finally had enough of the life I was leading. I would just wake up at four in the afternoon go drinking get into trouble go to bed, wake-up and do it all over again. I was my own worst enemy. I don’t want to be talking to my daughter from a prison cell, now I just don’t put myself in those situations anymore where I could get into trouble- if I feel myself getting angry I just walk away. I love this job, I have made good friends through it and I am hoping that in a few months my temporary contract will be made into a long-term one.
Bikeworks has totally changed my life.They train you and give you lots of help with interview practise and show you how to do a CV and they get you introductions to places where you might find work and the rest is up to you. They also bother to follow-up trainees to see how you are doing – they still ring me now to see how the job is going.
“Things are so different for me now.I have a girlfriend I live with and our flat is close to my daughter I see her every day and I am finally earning my own living. I can pay my own way not ponce off other people- it’s a great feeling and I intend to hang on to it.”
For more information contact:
Halfords is the UK’s largest bike and accessories retailer, with over 460 superstores. Our wide range includes road, MTB, BMX, town and trail and includes leading bike brands Boardman, Voodoo and Carrera. We build every bike purchased free of charge and also offer our customers a free six week safety check.
Halfords www.cycle2work.info provides a one stop cycle2work package for employers and employees. As the scheme’s pioneers we are able to supply virtually all bike brands available in the UK through both our own stores and Independent Bike Shop partners.
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