As part of an ‘Our World’ sustainability workshop held in September 2016, the IP Southern contract based in Brighton on behalf of Network Rail was asked to think of some ways in which they could contribute to the sustainability agenda in the local area. One of the suggestions was to work with Groundwork UK, a national charity whose aim is to improve local communities through among many things providing training to create jobs. There were a number of opportunities available so the team worked together to identify the initiatives they could assist with in a way that utilised our contacts, resources and skills.
The local Groundwork UK branch in Brighton were looking for assistance with sourcing abandoned bikes which could be returned to their ‘Changing Gears’ shop for refurbishment and eventual sale. Changing Gears is a community bike repair and restoration project run by Groundwork South’s team in Sussex and Surrey and a group of dedicated volunteers. For more information, visit their website www.changingears.co.uk
The welcoming team of bike and community enthusiasts provide training on bike maintenance (and can fix your bike for you too!), restore and sell pre-loved bikes and provide volunteering and accredited training opportunities for people of all ages. All proceeds from the sale of the bikes helps sustain the project and this in turn allows them to provide further training and volunteering opportunities.
Initially the thought was to replenish their supply of bikes into the shop by collecting them from our worksites but we hit upon the idea of approaching the Station Manager, Graham Thrower, at Brighton station to see if we could join forces and help both parties. We established an agreement to transport abandoned bikes from the station to the Changing Gears shop which not only provides a constant flow of bikes for refurbishment but also means the hundreds of bikes that were previously destined for landfill are now being 100% recycled. It’s a win-win situation! Since September we’ve been helping to transport bikes from the station to the shop on a weekly basis and are committed to continuing to do so.
Going back each week also provides us with the opportunity to see the process in full flow. The bikes that we’ve supplied are now either on the shop floor up for sale or, if they were deemed not commercially viable, they have been stripped of parts and used in other bikes.
It is clear example of how bringing different parties together and working collaboratively can really make a difference. For more information about the work of Groundwork UK, please visit their website www.groundwork.org.uk