Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) is using bikes abandoned at its railway stations to help people with learning difficulties acquire new skills and build their independence.
The company gave TAG Bikes workshop, based in Huntingdon Community Centre, just under 50 bikes left at stations on the Thameslink and Great Northern routes after its distribution manager heard they’d put out an appeal in the local media.
TAG’s enthusiastic team of 15 adults with learning difficulties, under the supervision of an employment skills worker qualified as a bike mechanic, are now servicing and repairing the machines to re-sell and raise money. The cash will be ploughed back into the charity, run by Cambridgeshire County Council as part of its Supporting into Work.
GTR Passenger Services Director Stuart Cheshire said: “More and more people are cycling to our Thameslink and Great Northern stations because we’ve been putting in better facilities with new racks and CCTV.
“Surprisingly, some people do abandon their bikes so when we heard the plea to help this great Supporting into Work project, we got straight in touch. There’s no better cause I can think of to benefit, and we’re glad to help.”
TAG Bikes Employment Skills Worker for Cambridgeshire County Council, Robert Bierton, said they had been given 150 bikes in total as a result of their appeal. He said: “We are always extremely moved by the generosity and kind hearts that exist out there, especially in our region. The recent response we have received from media coverage has been astonishing and positively overwhelming, there has been a magical feeling in our workshop since.
“The bike donations we receive are vital to the success and development of TAG Bikes. Supporting into Work TAG Bikes has never been about financial gain but more directed towards our learners’ development and getting our finished bikes back into new homes, without these donations we would not be able to do either.”
He added: “Myself and everyone involved with TAG Bikes are very proud of what we have built here in Huntingdon and would like to say a massive thank you to all that have supported us in recent weeks and over the past three years. We have the feeling another wonderful year is ahead for TAG.”
The bikes are sold at affordable prices to people in the local community. The money raised has already paid for computer equipment and a television for the workshop as well as parts to fix more bikes.