Old and broken bicycles abandoned by passengers at Rugby Railway Station have been given a new lease of life in a project to help ex-offenders.
The partnership between Virgin Trains, HMP Onley, CEMEX and local offender mentoring organisation, Futures Unlocked, means reformed characters now have a means of transport.
Mountain and city bikes were among the unwanted cycles which were stored in a warehouse on a platform at the station. With no-one coming forward to claim them, they were decaying and looked set to be thrown away.
Instead Virgin Trains team leader, Marlon Golding, offered the bikes to Futures Unlocked, a Rugby-based project which provides a volunteer mentoring service to ex-offenders to help them resettle into the community.
Futures Unlocked arranged for the bikes to be repaired by prisoners in a cycle workshop in nearby HMP Onley. CEMEX has agreed to store the bikes once repaired, and then they will be distributed to clients of the organisation, their families and even local schools.
HMP chaplain and Futures Unlocked Trustee, Glen Hocken co-ordinated, the work inside the prison.
“It was a shame to see so many bikes rusting into disuse and a great opportunity to have the bikes repaired free by serving prisoners for use by those who have been released and now need to find work,” said Glen.
“The bikes will help our clients to travel to job interviews and other important appointments. Helping ex-offenders get work itself contributes to a lowering of antisocial behaviour and offending.”
Jamie, a Futures Unlocked client who has been allocated one of the bicycles, and who hopes one day to run his own business, said: “The bike will be really useful to help me find work.”
Futures Unlocked will also give repaired bikes to schools for pupils who live in rural areas or face other difficulties.
Marlon Golding, station team leader for Virgin Trains at Rugby, said: “It’s great that Futures Unlocked could put these bikes to such good use. It shows how businesses and organisations can work together to improve sustainability in the local area.” Ian Southcott of CEMEX added: “The Rugby Group Benevolent Fund, a charity with close links to the company, has been a supporter of Futures Unlocked for a number of years and when we were approached to consider finding a secure storage area for the refurbished bikes, we were more than happy to help.”
To find out more, call Emma Wells on (01788) 547015.