Bike Stop Darlington (BSD) provides bike mechanic related training, promotes the health and environmental benefits of cycling, and sells bikes and accessories from its town centre shop. But it also creates a whole range of other social, environmental and economic outcomes – we’re more than just a bike shop.
Since 2012, BSD has supported over 120 people with work experience, 654 people on cycle rides and prevented over 3,400 bikes going to landfill. BSD remained open to the community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, providing bikes on free loan to NHS staff and other key workers (to help them continue to get to work safely) and donating bikes for Christmas presents for children who would otherwise not receive a significant gift.
We have supported people from a wide range of backgrounds and with varying degrees of vulnerabilities. We have gained extensively through meeting and working alongside so many different people. BSD gains income by recycling donated bicycles, which are sold at affordable prices to low income households. We also upcycle and restore vintage and high-end bicycles for sale at higher prices to support the work of the organisation, and this now includes a range of new bicycles, including e-bikes. In turn, the recycling and upcycling provides products for our trainees and work placements to work on, learning the skills of bicycle mechanics in a nurturing and supportive environment.
Bike Stop Darlington is the social enterprise of First Stop, an anti-poverty charity that provides practical and emotional support to the people who come into our centre, finding options that can bring about appropriate resolutions to the problems they are facing. We are here to help people breakdown the barriers that are preventing them moving forward to an independent life.
Over the next three years, and as part of its next stage of development, BSD would like to better equip long-term unemployed young people with the right skills and growth for the future. In order to do that, BSD aims to offer five apprenticeships over the next three years. With support from the Foundation, BSD has been able to offer the first of these, an 18-month cycle mechanic apprenticeship.
By investing our time, expertise and support, we will help these young people to turn their lives around, become internationally accredited cycle mechanics and find meaningful employment after their apprenticeships come to an end. First Stop will identify young people who have faced disadvantages in life and have been long-term unemployed to take on these opportunities.