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The Connection at St Martin’s

Build a Bike Course, Westminster, The Connection at St Martin’s, Homeless People and Those at Risk of Homelessness, 2015 , £ 3000

The Connection at St. Martin’s, based in the centre of London, helps those who are sleeping rough, those at risk of becoming homeless and those living in insecure accommodation in the city. The charity supports people from across the UK and over 100+ countries, and is inclusive and accessible to every age group, nationality and religion.

The CGL grant has enabled The Connection to run a Build a Bike course for clients who are currently accessing their day services. The course, delivered as part of the charity’s wider groups and activities programme, is designed to engage, support, up-skill and inspire their homeless clients to make lasting life-changes.

The project provides training to those who wish to work in the cycle industry, cycle enthusiasts, those who have difficulty travelling or those actively looking for work. The Build a Bike course is run over 3 full days (one day per week), and is delivered by tutors from Bike Works, a social enterprise who provide bike related training specifically for disadvantaged and excluded groups in London.

The course provides an introduction to building and maintaining bikes, and can lead on to a Level 1 City & Guilds qualification. Each participant gets a new, flat-packed bike to work on, and over the three days they work together to build it from scratch, break it down, and learn how to maintain various different parts of the bike. On completion of the course, the participants are able to keep the bike, providing them with a long term, affordable mode of transport which helps them travel to appointments and interviews, as well as keeping fit.

“This course is great for the participants as it represents something tangible, something physical that they can do with their hands whilst learning new skills and gaining in confidence” – Steve, Project Manager.

The City & Guilds qualification serves as a follow on course, and can lead to people finding work in high street shops such as Halfords and Evans, or with the Santander bike scheme in London. Three of this year’s participants are looking to go on to do the qualification. Fredrick, who has always been a keen cyclist, said that moving on to the qualification is a great stepping stone for him, as he has never really obtained qualifications in the past. Another trainee, called Patrick, has been sober for three years. He describes himself as ‘still learning to live again’, and plans to use his new bike to get to interviews and essential AA meetings.

“Doing the Build a Bike course has made me feel excited about learning new things, and has helped me feel confident enough to continue on to the City & Guilds qualification” – Patrick, Participant.

The course has proved to be very successful and the charity aims to continue delivering the project in the future, either from further funding or reserves.

To find out more about The Connection at St Martin's, please visit their website, or follow them on Twitter.

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