Cycling Projects: 2013 CCFL awarded projects start turning their wheels

The Hackney Volunteer Police Cadets is one of the 21 CCFL awarded projects that are going to develop in the coming months. Tom Morris, the Volunteer Cadet Co-ordinator, explains how this project will improve the lives of the 50 cadets that will take part in its initial phase and what inspired him to set it up. 

Earlier in the year, after extensive fundraising, some of the Hackney cadets, aged 13-18 years old, travelled to Gambia with a lorry container filled with bikes and tools. During their time in Gambia they renovated a disused property into a cycle workshop. This created a real interest among the cadets in pursuing cycle maintenance, both as a hobby and as employment. The experience also inspired Tom and other volunteers to develop a cycle maintenance project for the cadets in Hackney and seek funding for it.

He said: "Cycling is such a big part in the cadets' lives. They love the independence that bikes give them. But often they stop cycling when their bikes stop working because they can’t afford to take them to the shop. This is another of the reasons why they are so keen to learn mechanics and are looking forward to this project so much"

The aim of the project is to train cadets in bike maintenance. Weekly sessions will be delivered at the Forest Road Youth Hub in Hackney, using bikes recovered by the police and for which no owner can be traced. Refurbished bikes will be donated to local causes and once training has been completed the cadets will be able to practise their skills by taking part at community events organised in conjunction with the police.

The cadets will provide bike safety checks and repairs to the public, as well as offer bike marking and road safety advice. Tom also hopes they can return to Gambia this summer and this time work in the bike workshop along the local community putting their newly-acquired mechanics and volunteering skills in practice.

Tom added: "Many of our cadets are likely to leave school with little or no academic qualifications. We aim to provide experience and qualifications in a range of subjects so that they can make realistic choices on future careers. Gaining a qualification in cycle maintenance and experience in volunteering in the community will be valuable tools for the cadets when looking for a job in later life."

The project is also an effort to keep young people off the streets and providing them with useful and, at the same time, engaging activities and skills. Participation in the project will assist cadets attaining the Duke of Edinburgh award and an AQA qualification in bike maintenance.

The CCFL funding will be key to develop the project. "We had the people and the enthusiasm, but without the funds the project was a non-starter. Having been awarded one of the CCFL grants we can now buy the tools and train one of our volunteers as a professional bike mechanic to be able to deliver the project," says Tom. It is expected that the project will continue for many years, as once it is set up and running the ongoing costs will be minimal.

We will be reporting on the progress of the Hackney Volunteer Police Cadets bike project and all the other CCFL funded projects regularly in our London Cyclist Weekly and London Cyclist Monthly e-newsletters and in our quarterly magazine.

For a full list of the 2013 CCFL awarded projects click here.