We are shining a spotlight on the passionate individuals who are leading the way with their commitment to reducing waste – our Sustainability Champions. We caught up with Zym, long-term volunteer at the Platt Fields Bike Hub to find out how the R4GM Community Fund has made a difference to their project…

Based next to the lake in Platt Fields Park, the Bike Hub has been working hard over the past few months to get old bikes back on the road, while at the same time giving refugees a way to get around the city.

What was the inspiration behind the project?

“The people that are using our workshop are predominantly low-income customers and there has been quite a big demand for bikes. We’ve been approached several times by aid organisations who work with refugees so see if we could help. It’s been the focus for this project to enable people to have their bikes fixed for less than they would normally have to pay or have it done for free.

“It’s a big boost to cyclists in general but particularly for people who struggle to pay for public transport and accommodation. If money’s tight, having a bike for free and knowing it’s safe to ride, whether you’re going to the job centre or an interview, we believe cycling is definitly helping people on low incomes.”

How has the R4GM Community Fund helped with your aims and ambitions?

“It has allowed us to give more attention to this section of our community and allocate appropriate resources towards it. We have been able to increase staff hours to get the bikes ready, and we’re also able to attract a bit more interest from the community in terms of bikes donated towards us. Internally as an organisation, our focus to provide refugees with bikes has meant that we have now allocated time and effort specifically to support that group.”

What has the impact been on the community as a result of the project?

“The feedback we have been getting from people who have received bikes from us is overwhelmingly positive and everyone is so happy that they have been taken care of. It means a lot to us as well, it’s very valuable and it feels quite rewarding that you are helping someone who has maybe had help refused before. So just based on that positive feedback we can see that there’s definitely a glimmer of hope and kindness and humanity going.

“It’s difficult to say how long term this will affect the community, but even if we can help a handful of people that’s a handful of people less who are struggling to get about Manchester. We’ve dispensed about 13 bikes so far. We pledged about 35 so we’re kind of mid-way through, but I also feel like this is the winter period and we’ll get probably more interest later on in the year. We’re still trying to link up with other organisations to help us reach those in need. Our focus now is getting the bikes ready for the refugees. Mid way through, I think we’re on track.”

Has there been a specific moment that you feel most proud of?

“Adil, a refugee from Uzbekistan, he’s one of the people who gravitated towards us, and he wanted to volunteer with us. We were happy that he wanted to spend some time with us, learn a few things about fixing bikes. Hopefully it might lead to employment for him, I’m not sure if it’s possible to offer him employment at this stage as his English is quite limited but we can see he has the knack for mechanics and if his English gets better, I’m sure he’ll be able to find employment in a bike shop. The good thing is helping him to get his English up to speed as for most refugees, not all, communication can be a barrier.”

Platt Fields Bike Hub volunteers

What do you plan to do next?

“We’re going to try and carry on with our own fundraising efforts to continue the programme with refugee bikes in the future. The grant fund that we received helped us to identify the need, get links with relevant organisations and we will look at carrying on so where we know where to go with additional funding, and improving our own fundraising and marketing so we can get dedicated mechanics just for that.”

How can people get involved with the project?

“There are ways of donating, you can find out how to donate on our Facebook, Instagram and our website. We are welcoming anyone who has an old bike who wants to get rid of, so they don’t have to scrap it. We might be able to save parts from it or might be able to do it up and give it to someone who will love that bike. Currently, we’re not open to anyone for bike mechanic volunteering unless they are trained mechanics, or they’re looking to get into the profession and want to get a few more hours on the spanners so they can learn and hopefully help us fix some bikes.

“At the moment, we have two volunteers but that’s peak capacity for us to be able to do what we do and train. If there’s organisations or individuals who know someone who needs a bike definitely send them to us, we’ll try to do our best to sort them out with a bike. The best way to do that is either to ringing us, or pop in. If they need a bike, they need to be sized up so we can make sure we have a suitable bike. If the individuals live far away, maybe it’s best to call or reach out on social media first.”

And finally…

The Recycle for Greater Manchester Community Fund is a joint initiative between R4GM and Suez, with funds coming from sales made via Renew. Renew is the biggest reuse initiative of its kind, taking items that have been donated by residents at recycling centres and repairing or upcycling them ready to be resold. There are three Renew shops across Greater Manchester, as well as an online shop and eBay page.

Every year, £220,000 is made available for community groups, charities, schools and other organisations to bring to life projects that reduce waste and encourage reuse and recycling, while at the same time bringing people together via social value activities. To date, the R4GM Community Fund has awarded £660,000 to around 66 projects, covering a range of activities such as composting clubs, repair cafes, plastic upcycling, bike repair and more

The latest round of the Recycle for Greater Manchester Community Fund is now open for applications until 31st May – find out how your community project could benefit.

GM Green City Logo