Every year Groundwork helps thousands of people get the skills and experience that they need to get into green jobs. At Westminster Wheels, young people aged 17-24 learn how to become cycle mechanics. They get paid the London Living Wage for six months to put their skills into practice, refurbishing unwanted and unloved bikes that are donated to the project.
The site operates as a bike shop selling cycling accessories and bikes refurbished by trainees. This provides the trainees with retail experience and helps to ensure the sustainability the project.
The project also supports the local community, where many people have found themselves struggling to meet the costs of living. Not being able to scrape together enough bus fare means struggling to get to work or education for many people. A bike can make all the difference, but rising costs and huge demand means it’s an impossibility for many. To help solve this Westminster Wheels gives bikes to local people in need; such as unemployed young people, parents on universal credit who can’t afford children’s bikes, homeless people, and those with health conditions.
Barnaby, Westminster Wheels Workshop Manager:
Bikes are one thing. It’s the carbon-based life form that totters on top of them is the most interesting.
So I’m not interested in how many gears you’ve got, really kind of bores me, what interests me is: where you go, what you see, how it’s changed your life.
If cycling was a pill, they’d charge a million dollars a pill, because it is fantastic for your mental health, as well as your physical health. It is not a panacea to the world’s problems, but that machine fights climate change.
Hi there, my name’s Barnaby. I’m the workshop manager for Westminster Wheels.
My job is to look after the young participants who’ve joined the project, introduce them to working practices that they can expect in the cycle industry. It’s not just about how to use a torque wrench, it’s also about how to talk. Getting a grounding in basic behaviors that future employers will expect. Time keeping, presentation skills, as well as how to repair a bike, how to talk to a customer, how to use modern electronic point of sale.
There’s a huge diversity in the background of our participants.
They come from a background of claiming universal credit.
Some people have come from quite challenging backgrounds.
Some people have made a big life change possibly from running in a crowd that they shouldn’t have been running with.
Our ambition is, is to get them on a career path.
Rabiul, Westminster Wheels Trainee:
Ah, things before was hectic.
Depressed. I put on weight. I wasn’t motivated. I was bored.
I was angry.
Now I’m here, I’m positive, I’m smiling.
It’s feel amazing, I feel good man.
You know all this training that I put in, the team, it’s worth it.
I’m grateful man, grateful for everything.