Project: New CCFL Grants for Local Projects

This article was originally published in the December 2014 edition of London Cyclist

 

The 2014-15 CCFL grants were awarded in November, with sums between £1,000 and £5,000 allocated to 17 community cycling projects across 11 London boroughs. Aurora Trujillo looks at a selection of projects receiving a ‘top up’ grant of up to £1,000; these are designed to give a boost to projects that have been previously supported by the fund to consolidate or expand their activities

WOMEN & GENDER VARIANT NIGHT (WaG) (London Bike Kitchen)

The award-winning London Bike Kitchen is a DIY bike workshop in Hackney where people are encouraged and supported to learn maintenance skills and repair their own bikes. On the second and fourth Mondays of the month (6-9pm), LBK runs the WaG Night which is a space specifically open to, and supportive of, women and gender-variant people in an environment without the pressures that sometimes can be found in male populated spaces. As well as access to the workshop and tools, WaG offers structured sessions covering practical topics, such as how to adjust your brakes, and cultural ones, such as cycle-related film showings. This provides a variety of approaches to get more women and gendervariant people cycling.

LBK will use its top-up grant to offer the WaG sessions for free until March 2015. They will also invest in a comprehensive communications plan (including a new dedicated website) and will run surveys and focus groups with users and non-users to improve the activities and the space in a way that will attract more people.

Jenni Gwiazdowski, one of LBK’s directors, said: “LBK is stoked to have gotten a £1k grant for our Women and Gender-variant Night. We want to get more people riding bikes and this fund will help us target people who aren’t typically encouraged to pick up tools.

“We’re looking forward to conducting more research on how to get more people to come to our WaG nights, as well as creating our own logo and website.”

UP SKILLS ON WHEELS (APPLE)

APPLE, a children and youth play club based at The Art Block in Acton Park (Ealing), will use its top-up grant to build on the cycling activities they offered to the local youngsters last year. Joy Goddard, project manager, said: “We’re over the moon at receiving this grant, we have started some significant work with young people in Acton around cycling, bike maintenance and bike skills; this award will support young mentors to share their skills and knowledge with others.”

Last year APPLE offered mechanics’ courses, cycle skills sessions and trips to try mountain biking and BMX’ing. Alongside these activities, the project offered a pool of bikes that were used both to run the activities and to be borrowed by the young people to cycle around the park and the local vicinity.

The project was incredibly successful, attracting more than 300 young people, a third of whom were young women. Some of the young people had never cycled before or did not have enough confidence to do it on their own. Since the programme many of them have started cycling more regularly, have developed the skills to maintain their own and other people’s bikes and have developed the confidence to arrange group rides independently.

The new grant will be used to train a number of dedicated youngsters that have already participated in the programme to run bike maintenance and cycle skills sessions themselves. They will become cycle mentors to their peers and younger children in the club. This will make the club more sustainable and dynamic, as well as help those young people most passionate about cycling to gain even more confidence and an AQA qualification in cycle maintenance and skills.

56A BIKE ROOM

T56A Bike Room, located at the community building housing the 56A infoshop and the Fareshares food co-op in Elephant & Castle (Southwark), is a volunteer-run community bike workshop supporting cyclists to become self-sufficient in bike maintenance. 56A has been running for 18 years and it is incredibly popular.

It opens an average of 16 hours per week — Wednesdays 3-7pm, Thursdays 2-8pm, Fridays 3-7pm and Saturdays 2-6pm — with at least two volunteers well versed in bike maintenance per shift. The workshop enables thousands of cyclists each year, from all backgrounds (including many children), to learn to repair their own bikes for free — although donations are always welcome. They call their approach D-I-T (Do It Together) and the idea is that people fix their bikes as part of a group, supporting and learning from each other.

Their ability to support more people more professionally is currently inhibited by a shortage of certain specialist tools. They will use their grant to purchase these, which will greatly enhance the group’s capability to help local people tackle more intricate jobs without having to refer them to a professional bike shop simply because they lack the equipment.

“The CCFL grant will help us to help more people and give us a more complete workshop,” says Tim Woolrich, who has been volunteering at the workshop for more than 10 years.

The project is always looking for volunteers, so if you are passionate about bike maintenance, 56A would love to have you on board. You don’t need to be a professional mechanic (although these are very welcome too) to join their volunteer team. Competent skills to the level of adjusting gears and changing cables, and the willingness and patience to teach others rather than doing it for them, are all you need.