Community bike shop Westminster Wheels training unemployed residents to become bike mechanics

A group bicycle store that was set up in partnership by Westminster Town Council, Groundwork London and Cycle Confident has been providing chances for out-of-get the job done residents to train as bicycle mechanics and be paid out the London Living Wage although they are finding out.

All through the six-month programme, the trainees work alongside experienced bicycle mechanics refurbishing outdated bikes, of which 80% are offered at reasonably priced costs to produce money for the shop and 20% are donated to the area local community.

Considering that the shop opened in March 2021, 30 Westminster citizens have completed their 6-month education and most have long gone on to secure further more employment, several within the bicycle industry.

Chris Whiteley, who successfully accomplished his paid out perform placement with Westminster Wheels and who is now a complete-time bicycle mechanic explained: “I 1st moved to London very last calendar year. I was homeless before I came here so I moved in with my sister.

“I discovered a poster for Westminster Wheels when I was likely for a walk 1 working day and believed, I adore bikes and would like to discover how to resolve them. Westminster Wheels has totally altered my everyday living. I went from having no plan or what to do with my existence to discovering a career that I could happily spend the relaxation of my existence carrying out.”

Westminster Wheels has so considerably donated about 80 bikes which have been focused at locations in Westminster with the greatest fees of deprivation and wellness inequality. In the previous yr, bikes have been delivered to group organisations together with Marylebone Bangladesh Society, Paddington Growth Rely on, Women’s Groups and by means of the council’s Children’s Providers.

To stimulate safe and sound biking, all the beneficiaries are made informed of bicycle instruction classes and support and information available from the store at Church Street.

This 12 months, Westminster Wheels will be expanding its arrive at by donating bike servicing vouchers to low-revenue people in Westminster with the goal of delivering 450 vouchers in excess of the future six months.

Linking in with Westminster City Council’s broader local weather motion plan including its ambition to grow to be a carbon-neutral council by 2030 and town by 2040, the challenge also has a robust sustainability concentration.

In its initially calendar year, nine tonnes of disused bikes that would usually have long gone to squander have been refurbished. Local men and women are being inspired and enabled to decide on energetic transport more than autos.

The project’s get to has been built probable by sponsorship from businesses in Westminster like Capita, Ecoworld, Grosvenor, The Howard de Walden Estate, RMG, Westminster Local community Properties, Ecoworld, HA Marks, Wates and Crucial Power.

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Councillor Geoff Barraclough, cupboard member for planning and financial improvement at Westminster City Council, claimed: “Westminster Wheels has served people who face higher obstacles to employment this kind of as homelessness discover new and helpful abilities. About 60% of the trainees are now in total-time work.

“If you are a biking enthusiast or just  starting out on two wheels, you should examine out the Westminster Wheels shop on Church Avenue to meet the trainees and get qualified guidance on reasonably priced bikes and servicing.”