Wheels set in motion

A NEW project for unemployed young people was officially wheeled out in Sheerwater on Thursday.

Aimed at giving 18 to 24-year-olds not in education, employment or training (NEET) a useful life skill and confidence boost, Woking Bike Repair is a two-day-a-week course in cycle maintenance.

After six weeks, on completion, not only do they receive a Comprehensive Certificate in Cycle Repair and Maintenance, they also bag a free bike.

The idea was instigated in Woking by the town’s Neighbourhood Advice Centre Grant Officer, Nadia Shabir. She contacted John Thurlow, who ran a successful two-year bike project in Guildford as part of the Surrey Life Long Learning Partnership, and he was only to happy to get involved and help transfer the expertise and skills team to Maybury and Sheerwater.

John said: “We have captured the hearts and minds of the wider Guildford community who have donated bikes or have volunteered for the project. Through work experience and teaching new skills we have provided a brighter future for young unemployed people. We now plan to do the same in Woking.”

ON YER BIKE – volunteers Ryan Brown, David Vanstone, Steve Payne, Fred Jenkin and Mike Burger set up the bike repair shop in Sheerwater

ON YER BIKE – volunteers Ryan Brown, David Vanstone, Steve Payne, Fred Jenkin and Mike Burger set up the bike repair shop in Sheerwater

After Trustee and Advice Centre Chairman, Mohammad Ali, approved the scheme, Nadia managed to secure a bid for funding from Travel Smart, who promote the reduction of carbon footprints through projects such as walking, cycling or car sharing.

Centre scheme, in partnership with Surrey Lifelong Learning, works alongside the Job Centre, so Job Seeker’s Allowance is not affected and candidates can be helped with initial transport costs. Nadia said: “Initially we had a problem with premises but Woking Borough Council have been brilliant and given us the shop for a token rent. People have been really supportive and have just turned up and donated their bicycles.”

While repair work goes on at the back of the premises, front of shop Woking residents will be able to buy reasonably priced, fully refurbished donated bikes or have their existing bikes professionally serviced at low cost.

Open to all who walk in off the street, the shop is run by volunteers to encourage more cycling in the community. They offer free information on cycling, maintenance and can advise what sort or bike best suits a person’s needs.

Nadia added: “There are so many advantages to the project. As well as the NEET learning skills, residents are being encouraged to cycle, thereby reducing their carbon footprint and congestion on the roads, saving money and creating a healthier lifestyle.”

John said: “We are recruiting six NEETs from the Job Centre, Youth Services, Surrey Care Trust and other agencies for the repair course’s start on June 23.”

Drop in to the Woking Bike Project shop at 35 Dartmouth Avenue, Sheerwater. Open on Mondays and Thursdays, 10am until 4pm. Donated bikes and volunteers are welcome.

For more details, contact John Thurlow at jthurlow@surreyllp.org.uk or the Neighbourhood Advice Centre at wokingnac@gmail.com or on 07583 771607.





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