At Handlebars, we regularly travel to businesses and office buildings all over London to provide bike servicing pop-ups - they’re a really convenient way for cyclists to get their bikes serviced and repaired whilst their at work - but we were a little bit surprised when we got a call from the Metropolitan Police inquiring about our services.
Happily though we weren’t in trouble. Officers based out of the Stoke Newington station run regular youth engagements programmes to help keep kids off the streets and out of trouble - they wanted Handlebars to help them out with a two-day bike workshop for young people from the Stamford Hill Estate in Hackney.
It was a great two days. One of our most experienced mechanics, Marco, worked flatout to turn around forty bikes to make sure they were safe. The deal was the kids got to keep the bike that they helped repair, so we had lots of eager apprentices keen to do their bit and learn about bike maintenance - who knows, maybe there’ll be a few future bike mechanics from the group.
That’s certainly the direction of travel for Handlebars - we’re keen to work with and train people from all sorts of backgrounds, including kids from disadvantaged communities, ex-service personnel, or people that just need a leg-up and support to learn some new skills. And later this year we’ll be rolling out a new mechanics apprentice scheme. If you’d like to get involved, or know someone you think is a bike mechanic-in-waiting, get in touch.
In the meantime, we’re looking forward to doing more workshops like the one in Stoke Newington.
PC Okofo Acheampong, one of the officers leading the initiative said: “Youth engagement is a really important part of our work here in Stoke Newington, working to keep young people off the streets and out of trouble. So we were delighted to team up with Handlebars to run a two day bike repair workshop for kids from the Stamford Hill community. Marco the mechanic worked flat out, teaching the kids basic maintenance skills, and also repairing 40 bikes that were then given to the kids as part of their participation in the workshop. We hope this is the first of many workshops that we deliver with Handlebars in the future”.