Interacting with other people had become very difficult for Dalmar, who'd even taken to wearing headgear low over his face to avoid making eye contact with people at all costs.
This strange behaviour only started after he witnessed extreme violence at a very young age during the Somalian civil war. Separated from his family, he came to England when he was 15, and eventually ended up homeless.
After sleeping rough in London for nine months, he was referred to Centrepoint’s emergency stay hostel, suffering from severe depression. He was highly dependent on outside help and receiving benefits.
Centrepoint was awarded £4942 by the Community Cycling Fund for London in 2010 to run a six-week build-a-bike course, which was to transform Dalmar’s life.
Centrepoint mentor Gabrielle Loney said, “When he started the course, Dalmar was incredibly nervous, and I had to meet him outside and show him in. At first, he was content with being at the back and just watching.
“The following week, I waited for Dalmar at the reception, but discovered that he’d already gone in the class early on his own, and had joined in the group.
Participants on the course learn bike mechanics while working on donated bikes. At the end of the project, they get to keep the bike that they’ve worked on.
“Although Dalmar would sit by himself during the breaks, he began talking to other young people in the class.
“Over the six weeks, Dalmar progressed from a being young man who wouldn’t speak to being a lively member of the class.
“The workshop session really made him feel at ease, and the transformation was fantastic to watch. He got on so well with the mechanics that they arranged for him to volunteer with them, teaching him skills that he hopes will find him work soon.”