Recycle workshop for homeless hostel means business

Margins - maintenance sessions

A project for the homeless in Islington is using bike maintenance courses to help people get back into employment.

'Margins' runs bike maintenance and recycling sessions, funded via the LCC-administered Community Cycling Fund for London.

The project runs bike maintenance and restoration sessions for vulnerable homeless people, and plans to turn its recycling capabilities into a business after a successful three-month trial.

Located in Islington’s Union Chapel, the project has benefited from being given some land by a former Ford car next door.

The organistation plans to set up a shop and sell reconditioned bikes to the community at affordable prices, with profits used to support Margins and the training scheme.

The maintenance workshops will act as a training programme where participants and volunteers can learn skills to support the project and to help them get back into employment.

Margins is currently working with the local community to ensure a steady supply of abandoned and donated bikes.

The Margins project and On the Streets

Margins has been in existence for 14 years, providing services and facilities for the homeless and those in crisis. The main focus is training and skills development, working to support the vulnerable and to maintain sustainable lives away from the streets.

Central to this strategy is the volunteer programme, which supports people with addiction, mental and physical health issues.

The bike sessions have been dubbed ‘On the Streets’, and aim to encourage the development of personal responsibility and self-esteem.

The invaluable skills learnt from working within a bicycle workshop will range from practical tool handling and workshop safety to social skills, with sustained employment in mind.

On The Streets

Each maintenance course runs over six weeks, with participants learning to restore abandoned and donated bikes.

One participant said, "The workshop was absolutely brilliant… having known nothing about bicycles I now know a lot and I am so pleased to be getting a bicycle next week."

Fact file

Name Margins 'On The Streets'
Purpose Boost skills, improve employment opportunities and development for homeless people in Islington
Awarded £4300 from the Community Cycling Fund for London in 2009
Activities Maintenance workshops and bike recycling.