Everyone wants to belong, or be a part of something bigger than themselves…
This world is a strange place- as a pack animals we simply lost the skill of gathering and resolving issues using the advantage of numbers. We turn to solitarity in whatever we do these days- for reason unknown we are unable to join forces to resolve problems.
This is a picture that shows what The Bikes College does- we join forces, we resolve issues.
This is how 4 people cooperate closely to mend and repair a simple failure. This skill is highly valuable now- interacting and cooperating to find a solution to a problem:
‘…together we work harder…’
These are the very own words of one of them- and the average age between these four is 9 years old. Together it is easier to learn as it also is easier to teach.
We began our journey as a small project that is changing the lives of these who are simply responsible for our future; however unaware they might be. These young brains are the minds that will (and already are) shaping our future; these little minds are responsible for educating the next generations. We need to emphasise to them that it is important to be smart, to be imaginative, to be open-minded, to be sufficient, to be efficient, savy and cunning in whatever we do. We made it difficult to them, we have exploited resources and broken all the ancient rules. We took advantage of something that was set up for a number of generations and destroyed it in less than a century. And now our ignorance takes its toll on us.
We need to relearn the ancient art of cooperation- we promptly must join forces to ensure the future to remain as bright as we tend to paint it for ourselves. We are exploiting our youth, teaching them how to be ignorant and lazy, how to show no interest and to expect everything for nothing, how to take things for granted. And it must change. NOW!
Be a bigger person- teach a kid something new yourself. And do it now.
The remarkable thing is, we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for the day.
Charles R. Swindoll
It slowly got to the point when we are doing much more than we ever wanted. We not only fix, repair, swap, replace and give bikes. We also get everyone together and get things done.
The other day we had a lovely opportunity to help a couple of kids from a distant estate. Their parents had a few things that they offered to donate to The Bikes College and we accepted these; there was a few of old items of clothing we use as rags, there were a few toys that we gave away straight away… She also brought a couple of old toddlers’ bikes which we offered for free immediately.
We found the new owners within minutes; Benjamin seems quite amused. Benjamin happened to be the youngest ever user of TBC- he just turned 2. He likes Buzz Lightyear and his new wheels will get him rolling now…
It took literally a couple of hours to get the bicycles from one person to another. It is amazing how things like these do not really happen on a daily basis. It is extremely strange that we, as pack animals, do not communicate anymore. We do not talk enough to maintain a basic interpersonal interaction. We are unable to use our own prowess to our own advantage.
You see it feels great to posses all these powers- the powers to change the world starting form our own back yard. Step by step we have the ability to turn things around and ensure that the world is a better place. And just like everyone else…
You are a tool.
To change the world!
Many activities and team play participation will give you a training that will prove invaluable later on in life.
It is busy at The Bikes College. People are calling from as far as Yeadon to donate bikes. Kids need bikes in Pudsey. If we were honest it got slightly overwhelming lately…
But what never changed is the impact of what we do. And we do it everyday. We are also happy to expand our standard services. We swapped bikes with few people recently- they donate theirs and we give them something more suitable or simply what they fancied more. We did that with S. recently- he was desperate for a new bike; he was helping out with J. a lot lately and we promised to keep an eye out for him.
So when S. appeared at our door one day with a half a bike to ‘build it’ we made a deal with him- he surrenders whatever he brought (too big, half of it missing, etc.) and we will get him a BMX; 3 days later here he is- with his brand new ride. After a prompt confirmation with his parents that it is all fine to exchange we got another smiling kid. On a bike…
Here is (from right) S., J. and their friend C. C. has heard about us from J. and S. and came around a few times to fix a few minor things on his bike. He is quite obviously too big for his bike and we agreed that when we have something for him we will swap with him too- C. will be back in a couple of days (he does not know yet).
They keep coming back. Bringing more friends that are willing to chat, to repair, to learn, to participate. You know- after all we are all in it together, right?
Strive not to be a success but rather of a value.
We struggle to explain to the majority of people on our way that what we do is not for profit. Despite our soon-to-be legal structure we are not working like a standard company.
When the bikes are being given away we prepare them so they are safe to use. Our target audience are children aged 7-15yo and despite their lack of understanding of safety they do receive bicycles that are built, serviced and maintained to a standard considered as high even at the high street bike stores.
We were contacted by so many people recently- we still cannot believe how many good words were said about what we do. We met people from miles away driving to donate an unwanted bicycle to us (thank you Tom), we had people donating 3 bikes at a time (thank you David)… We attracted some attention and we are simply gob-smacked by the amount of good vibes sent our way. We realised that there must be something right about what we do as we get busier now. Day in day out we have local kids coming down with stuff to fix, tubes to patch up, wheels to pump up, bikes to mend and more. We get the same faces on a regular basis but they also bring friends; and they bring friends. And their friends.
The Bikes College got as busy as never before and people know who we are and what we do. We also increased our turnover whilst still working as a voluntarily project- we do not get paid for what we do. We would like to be able to create few work spaces soon and we are working towards it but at this time we are still relying only on donations and handful of sales. We do sell approximately 15% of our bikes not for profit but to keep what we do as a free service to all. We repair punctures for free, that would normally cost you at least £5; we replace brake shoes for free, that would normally cost you £3 per set; we replace the old and rusty cables and outers, that would normally cost you £1 per cable. You see all that has to come from somewhere and without your kind donations and few sales these costs would have to be covered by you guys. We also swap bikes- you bring us yours we will give you ours- more suitable, better, bigger, etc. Next time you think we are are not doing enough go to the bike shop and try to buy an inner tube, get it fitted, pumped up, your tyre and rim checked up- for a smile and a handshake.
You see we do it for about that much. And sometimes not even that; for sometimes it is too much to ask for.
It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.
It was a bit of a busy bank holiday weekend at The Bikes College. We had some familiar faces visiting with the typical “My tyre’s popped!” and some new faces too. K. popped in one day to ask if we could swap a frame and wheels for him on his BMX. He brought T. with him, his BMX riding buddy, cheerful and keen to help. We set the time and the date, and got prepared for a bike strip/bike build. The fun begun…
T. and K. worked together from the very beginning, supporting and helping each other with various tasks; i.e. tyre replacement, inflating the tubes, etc. They worked hard together and the old BMX was disassembled, new frame assembled, new wheels put on, tyres pumped and the bike ready to go within 3 hours. When questioned about the spare frame and the wheels that K. had left from his original BMX he stated that he might (quote: ‘possibly’) donate them to T. so he can upgrade his own BMX shortly. It is a great example of how the local kids start working together and share things amongst each other for the benefit of all. K. and T. live nearby, they do not go to the same school and know each other only by the means of riding together. They have also built a bike together as of today.
Another sideline story that gives us the reason to be proud of K. is the fact that he had a free bicycle he got from us initially. He then got his bmx given to him by his parents. He gave his old bicycle, then surplus to requirements, away for free to someone on his street. Then he came to us to upgrade his frame and wheels. The old bmx will most likely be given away. For free. Again.
There is that amazing feeling of accomplishment that accompanies our sessions recently. That amazing feeling of fulfilment and ability to change mindsets. To breed behaviours. To inspire. To initiate change. That is what we do you see, we change them. Without them knowing. And it feels great!
I’ll do anything for free stuff.
The Bikes College, since its very first day, was about turning waste and unwanted stuff into something that others can turn into a functional machinery. We get bicycles that feel and look pretty sorry for themselves and turn them into fully functional ‘vehicles’; ‘vehicles’ that power the people so they can go, think and act outside the box. To be free and to be mobile; as the human beings should be.
Number of people, projects and authorities got in touch since the article offering help on so many levels that we struggle to comprehend the extend of TBC’s impact. We got offered bikes, clothes, food, more bikes…
We receive a lot of kind donations at The Bikes College so we are slowly giving it all away for free!
NB. the recent donation from TRJFP has brought a lot of smiles upto the project. Thank you guys!!!
A great accomplishment should never be the end of the road; just a starting point for the next leap forward.
This very rainy day we were featured in Yorkshire Evening Post following an interview with a columnist Neil Hudson. It made us very proud of what we do and we would like to thank everyone involved in The Bikes College.
The article, available as an e-version online, has been an astonishing two pages long feature in YEP’s News Focus on page 6.
The article has had an amazing impact on our project already. We have numerous mentions all over the social media and the emails started flooding in. We had local authorities, more press, old friends, current friends, friends’ friends and plenty more enquiring and sharing the story.
We would like to thank Neil Hudson, Tony Johnson and Simon Hulme for putting this story together. We also send our thanks to Leeds City Council Housing Office, Stonham, Barca Leeds, Speedy Leeds Deliveries Ltd and plenty others- you all know who you are guys. We would like to send our compliments to all our supporters- without you we would never be here!
We will continue to grow much faster now- we promise!
You have reached the pinnacle of success as soon as you become uninterested in money, compliments or publicity.
Times are always difficult for projects like ours- the austerity measures all across the most important fields to spend more on trivialities- it gets difficult to keep up the good work and stay enthusiastic.
But what gets us going is the same that makes us smile everytime someone leaves the workshop with a grin on their face. That feeling of being appreciated for what we do- not why, not for how much, not who for- it is WHAT we do that gets us going. It delivers the same pleasure every time- it never fails to satisfy the internal need to help the others to get something vital in life- the freedom. The freedom to travel, the freedom to discover, the freedom to learn, the freedom to share, the freedom to teach, the freedom of being free.
What is extremely heart-warming is the fact that this very feeling of satisfaction and achievement upon completion is indeed very contagious. It emanates, it lingers around, it merges with good vibes and the friendly atmosphere. And it is infectious- it spreads faster that a common cold. And it goes beyond our small team, it goes further; it goes beyond the team of our users, it goes further; it goes beyond the boundaries of Bramley, it goes further than that too. It gets so strong and so contagious that people start talking about us- rumour has it that we are getting recognised for what we do. We are getting recognised by local authorities and media. The word about the team of passionate bike fixers spreads like a fever!
We never suspected that what we do is so recognised. It fills us with pride that we can do this and we would like to thank everyone involved. We will not stop now- the future looks brighter than ever and we will grow bigger and stronger!
A teacher affects eternity as he can never tell where his influence stops.
Remember J. from few days ago; J. who was taught by C. how to repair a puncture? He came back again with a friend of his. S. is 8 years old and he knows J. as they live closeby. This time again we sat back and let J. take initiative and deliver a quick tuition in puncture repairs.
Initially we were keen to help all the way but shortly realised that J. is a comfortable leader. He took over immediately and explained to S. how to repair a puncture step by step.
TBC always encourages team work and learning together- be it big groups or just a couple of friends. We emphasise the need to work on solutions together, putting age barriers and any other differences aside, to deliver what is simply an astonishing result. It is extremely inspirational where we witness local kids learning one day and teaching what they learnt the day after. Meet J., 11 years old, who was struggling to repair his puncture just a couple of days ago and today he was teaching his own sister A. who is 6 years old. The impact of that kind of interactions, in a family or amongst friends or even strangers, is impossible to explain.
J. learns how to mend his inner tube
J. teaches his own sister A. how to mend her puncture next day
Kids, interacting at the basic social levels, learning and teaching at the same time, looking after each other and each others’ property, understanding the importance of teamwork and helping…
This is the message we want to spread. In Leeds to start with. And beyond…
Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.
We give an astonishing number of bikes away for free. We get them refurbished to safe standards and simply seek kids in the area that need a bicycle. For numerous reasons there are plenty of children around Leeds (and beyond we believe) that simply do not have a bicycle.
A bicycle is a childhood related gift, an attachment to your childhood; when you think about your adolescence there is a bike somewhere, sometime there… You get a bicycle and it changes everything- you discover ‘distant’ lands, be a 4 miles away city centre or 1 mile away next estate. You discover and you travel, you become independent and the bike is responsible for it. It fills us up with a great sadness when people do not treat that privilege with all due respect.
When you get a gift of freedom it is an extreme selfishness to simply let it disappear; to contribute towards is even a greater sin.
We realised that our gifts are sometimes simply abused and it gets us truly sad. It is an extremely heartbreaking experience; it gets us feeling regretful and low-spirited. We expect the kids we help to simply ride the bikes they have been given and to enjoy themselves; we do not want anyone taking us and our gifts for granted. It is truly a sorrowful happening.
Dear people of Leeds and beyond- this is to make you aware that there are people who care and who are passionate about these little gems you have been given- please look after them for this will make us as happy as we can get. Then we rest assured that what we do is a great cause and is indeed appreciated. Thank you.