The Young Lewisham Project offers a wide range of supportive alternative vocational programmes to young people who are not succeeding in mainstream education for a variety of reasons. Sessions take place during the week and at weekends, delivering a range of activities including bike maintenance. They have approximately 60 bikes donated each year, and partner with a number of local bike related businesses in providing activities.
The organisation had seen that, for a number of reasons, some children in the area did not have easy access to bikes. These included not only the cost of purchasing a bike but also costs involved in bike ownership, such as maintenance, which can be prohibitively high. Both of these can discourage involvement in cycling ongoing use of bikes for a number of reasons.
In its first year, the project has offered three programmes of sessions of eight to ten participants. Each programme consists of six skill learning sessions, including safe cycling and bike maintenance. In addition, participants took part in excursions and trip planning, enabling them to not only practice the skills learnt but also enjoy the freedom that cycling provided.
A key element of the project was to have both young people ad their families attend. This provided an extracurricular programme where parents and carers were fully involved, rather than simply dropping off and picking up the young participants. It also acted to remind the adult participants involved the joys of cycling.
Whilst there is a cycle hire scheme in Lewisham for adults to borrow bikes for up to a month, no similar provision existed for young people. The project gave young people access to bikes, and even the opportunity to earn their own bike through renovating a bike through attending the programmes. This has allowed families to experience the fun cycling can bring and encourage healthy and activity family activities outside of the project.
This access to bikes, coupled with knowledge sharing regarding maintenance, has allowed many young people and families in the local area to overcome the bike ownership barriers they previously faced.
Over the next years the project plan to hold more programmes to allow a greater number of participants to engage. Through expanding the advertising campaign to include more local services and businesses, such as libraries, local shops and even pubs, they have seen a waiting list of participants build up. The ongoing marketing strategy also involves completing a blog page on the Young Lewisham Project website, to spread the word and bring the benefits of the project to an event wider audience.
The project has seen participants really improve their knowledge, and given families the opportunity to spend time together learning something new.
What participants thought
"I used to be scared when I took off, but now I’m not"
"I learnt a lot more things, like looking behind you and putting your hand out.
I enjoyed the time I’ve been going there."
"I am feeling more confident on my bike, it helped my balance."
"We found the sessions very useful and informative. Roy is an excellent teacher. My child really enjoyed the sessions."
Parent of participant