Pedal Power in Castlemilk - The Community Can Cycle Project
Community Can Cycle is a social enterprise and recognised Scottish charity that operates in the Castlemilk area of Glasgow. Our organisation was formed in October 2000 by Jim O'Donnell, a local social entrepreneur, with support from Castlemilk Economic Development Agency. Our aim is to bring about a range of social and economic benefits to the community.
We meet our social purpose by providing a free bicycle repair service, by rebuilding and hiring or passing on donated bicycles at low cost in the community, and by running a community glass and aluminium recycling scheme. Based in a workshop unit in the heart of the community our project is currently operated by three full time employees and a team of 12 volunteers who receive training and support in order to secure employment.
The rationale behind our project
Castlemilk is peripheral housing scheme in South West Glasgow, characterised by low income, high unemployment, poor skills, and a lack of opportunities for children and young people. There are 15,780 residents in Castlemilk, one third of which are aged under 20 years old (Castlemilk Partnership, 2000). Of the 6,574 households in the area, 55% have an income below £100 per week (Scottish Executive, 1999). It is against this background that parents in Castlemilk, like every other community, want to give their children the best possible start in life.
Bicycles are a key part of children's lives and a source of major expenditure for low income families. Based on figures from the national Bicycle Association we estimate that around 2,200 households in Castlemilk own a bicycle and that around 580 families purchase a bicycle each year. Often bicycles are bought on credit, through loans or catalogues, and are rapidly outgrown or fall into disrepair. This is a significant burden to poor families and leads to deeper poverty, unsafe bicycles or children being deprived of the opportunity to cycle. The child misses out on play, travel, exercise, safety and health.
The main aims, objectives and activities of our project
We aim to reduce the poverty that local families face and promote the health and well being of children and young people by providing safe and affordable access to bicycles. We do this by:
- Repairing bicycles – we have established a workshop unit where we repair bicycles free of charge for local children using new or recycled parts (a commercial business will charge £15 on average for just an initial examination). In our first 18 months of operations we have repaired or rebuilt over 700 bicycles for the people of Castlemilk and expect to serve 500 low income families over the next full year.
- Rebuilding and reusing bicycles – we also collect and refurbish donated bicycles. We either give these bicycles to the needy, hire them out at a free of charge to local community groups, or sell them at low cost to local families. Our bicycles cost a maximum of £30 to buy (on average 15% of retail price) and we operate a savings scheme with Castlemilk Credit Union to help local parents make the purchases. We expect to sell 150 bicycles to local families and hire out bicycles to 10 local community groups over the next year.
- Volunteering opportunities – our services are carried out by a team of 12 volunteers, some of whom are disabled and all of which are unemployed. We assist our volunteers by offering them the opportunity to gain a qualification in bicycle repair that may lead on to employment. We will increase our group of volunteers to 20 during the next year.
- Recycling activities – we promote care for the environment and raise vital funds for our bicycle work through our recycling operations. We collect, sort, process and sell glass bottles and aluminium cans via a network of collection points throughout the community. We are currently establishing a community recycling plant that will open during July 2002.
Managing our project
Community Can Cycle is governed by a voluntary management committee made up of eight local residents, who are democratically elected from our membership. Our committee members have between them many years experience of community involvement. The committee is composed of three men and five women who bring with them a wealth of knowledge, experience and contacts (seven of the eight are currently in employment).
We sustain our activities through grant funding, through the sale/hire of bicycles, and through income generated by our recycling activities. Through these fundraising methods our social and environmental purpose will be advanced and our project will move towards financial sustainability. Our aim is to become fully self sustaining within three years.
During the last year we have been successful in accessing grant funding from: