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Repaired bikes help families

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Families are on the move thanks to a new scheme to recycle bikes.

Rutland County Council is working with staff and inmates at HMP Stocken, near Oakham, to run the My Bike project.

It involves 40 prisoners restoring bikes which have been left at the council’s recycling centres.

They are then given to people who are in need of a bike free of charge.

The aim is to give people free transport so they can access education, training and work.

It particularly targets those with low incomes, learning difficulties, mental health issues plus those in recovery programmes or in sheltered housing.

Mark Andrews, the council’s deputy director for people, said: “My Bike is still in the early stages but we’ve already had lots of interest and the support from our local partners has been absolutely fantastic.

“We realised some time ago that bikes turning up at our recycling centres could still be put to good use, in some cases with only minor servicing.

“Thanks to the prisoners and workshop staff at HMP Stocken we now have a process where old and unwanted bikes of all sizes can be reconditioned and given to individuals and families who might otherwise find it difficult to get one.”

Neil Watson, an instructor at the prison helps on the bike project. He said: “We expect to get around 20 to 30 bikes a month from the recycling centres.

“Some are in a really poor condition and need a lot of work while others are very good.

“Some prisoners know absolutely nothing about bike maintenance, but they will come out with a City and Guilds certificate in cycle maintenance.

“They are also really proud of the work they do.”

The project launched last Saturday at Oakham Fire Station where 19 bikes were given out.

Anna Constable who has problems with her feet and would struggle to afford a bike and her son Sebastian, of Oakham, received cycles.

She said: “We were really excited to hear about the project and then finding out we were eligible was just amazing. We’re getting something from it but other people are benefitting as well, which is just great.”

Details can be obtained via 01572 722577 or mybike@rutland.gov.uk

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