Young Residents in Northumberland Park and Broadwater Farm have helped set up a bike project to benefit their communities.
Your Bike Project is the result of the council’s consultation with residents asking what they wanted to see change on their estates. More employment and sports opportunities for young people were two of the top priorities, and so a programme based around bikes was created with the help of children’s charity, Wheely Tots.
“We’re trying to use bikes and cycling as a means to engage young people,” said David Pitcher of Wheely Tots. “Besides learning about repairing and making bikes the sessions will be based around planning rides, mending, doing, and meeting new people. I use bikes as a means to an end because they do bring people together, teach us important life skills, and help combat social exclusion.”
And what about employment prospects?
“There will be opportunities for a young person to become trained as a mechanic or a cycle instructor themselves,” said project lead and cycle instructor Vivienne Long. “If someone puts up their hand and says, ‘I’m fixing a few bikes and would love to become qualified’ we could guide them through the process and help them to give their skills back to the community. Qualifications and a vocation could come out of this.”
Open to all 12 to 18-year-olds living in the estates the project will last for three years with the hope it will then become self-sustaining with the youngsters running it themselves. With pop up biweekly sessions near or on the estates – and additional sessions scheduled in the school holidays – Vivienne hopes bicycles will become instruments to empower real change in the north London communities.
“We’ve already started sessions and have had a lot of engagement and interaction with young people who have brought their own bikes along or friends’ bikes,” she said. “It’s all about facilitating positive growth, creating connections between people and then the youngsters can build their own legacy and inspire others. I’m excited and this feels like the most meaningful work I’ve done to date.”
Running hand-in-hand with the bike project will be a service called Thinking Space. Based in both Northumberland Park and Broadwater Farm it will give Young People the opportunity to come together to talk about any issues they may have in a safe and facilitated environment.
“It’s about guiding young people to think about how they make the best choices and enjoying new experiences,” said Haringey Council’s Socio-Economic Regeneration Manager, Angharad Chapman. “The two projects will complement each other and create a true collaboration. Recently, we had visits to the estates from members of the Danish Olympic Committee because they were so interested in the work we’re doing. It’s a hugely exciting time.”
Your Bike Project is looking for donations of old bikes for the youngsters to fix up and give away to community members in need. If you can help, or want to find out any more information about the project, including how to get involved, visit: www.yourbikeproject.uk (external link)