Lottery success for Life Cycle UK

Local cycling charity Life Cycle has successfully secured over 300,000 pounds from the Big Lottery Fund to enable it to continue running Bike Back, its bicycle refurbishment project in partnership with HMP Bristol.

Bike Back takes unwanted bikes donated to the scheme by members of the public, to Bristol Prison, where they are stripped down, cleaned and then rebuilt by prisoners under the tuition of an expert mechanic. Life Cycle then sells the bikes at low cost with the aim of helping more people on low incomes to cycle.  All the funds raised at the bike sales are put directly back into the scheme.

The project was recently featured on Crime and Punishment on BBC1. Gethin Jones interviewed Poppy Brett, (Life Cycle UK’s Director) who was able to show him the success of the project in providing prisoners with opportunities to learn new skills. In the last two years, 170 prisoners have had the chance to participate with some really positive feedback. One prisoner commented;

“I have worked on motorbikes before and thought cycles would be similar, but it is just as hard…(It’s)…helpful for the future, to put into practice on my own bikes and to motivate me and help to find work on release.  Dave is a very good instructor and has helped us a lot with his knowledge, I have learnt a lot from him and he is fun to work with.  I would recommend this project to anyone, fun, helpful and learning new skills, gives confidence to try and find work on release.”                 

The project has also been successful at increasing the number of low-cost bikes available to local people. In the last 12 months Bike Back has refurbished and sold nearly 350 bikes, which means originally unwanted bikes going back in to the community. It also stops old bikes going to landfill. Feedback from the project shows that the affordability of bikes is key to enabling more people to buy bikes and get out cycling.

Helen Cartwright from Horfield bought a bike from the project in December 2012 and said;

“I adore my bike.  I use it for shopping and meeting friends and am able to keep up with my boys on their bikes and scooters.  It gives me great sense of freedom.  It is such a good quality bike at a very good price.  I never could have afforded a new one – I am really grateful to the project and tell all my friends about it!.”

The Big Lottery Fund have agreed to support the project for the next five years giving the scheme long-term security ensuring an ongoing supply of refurbished bikes for Bristol whilst giving prisoners at HMP Bristol ongoing opportunities to learn employability and mechanical skills. We are grateful to Bristol Cycle City funding and The Bromley Trust for supporting the work at the prison over the last two years.

Lorna Slark, Head of Reducing Reoffending at HMP Bristol commented;

“The Life Cycle workshop at Bristol Prison has been very successful in providing prisoners with employment in prison, as well as training to support them in getting employment on release. Prisoners give back to the local community through refurbishing donated bikes.  We aim to build on this success through providing more training and stronger links to employers, giving prisoners the opportunity for rehabilitation and a successful life on release.”

Poppy Brett, Director of Life Cycle, commented

“We are absolutely over the moon about this. Bike Back is win, win, win all the way. It helps prisoners learn new skills; it helps the environment by reducing waste and it helps people on low incomes get bikes, get cycling and get fit! This is great news for Bristol”.

To celebrate this success Life Cycle and HMP Bristol are hosting an event at the prison on the morning of 25th April 2012.

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