Transforming lives through reCYCLE project

13 June 2014

Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) has been working with the Glasgow Bike Station, Tiso and Evans for a project aiming to transform lives through cycling.

reCYCLE takes unwanted bicycles, refurbishes them if required and donates them to young Glaswegians who needed them, helping them learn new skills or providing an affordable mode of transport for job interviews or college.

reCYCLE is the University’s official Glasgow 2014 Legacy Project which has been endorsed by Glasgow City Council in recognition of its contribution to the principles which underpin the Glasgow 2014 Legacy Framework, which include sustainability, health and inclusion.  

The project is run in tandem with SiMY Community Development, a Townhead-based organisation which helps young people and their families achieve their hopes and ambitions for themselves and their community.  

Neil Pratt, team leader at SiMY, says: “As well as all the obvious health benefits and getting people outdoors, providing young people with their own bikes means that they’ve got a form of transport and freedom that they wouldn’t normally have. There are very few households in the area that have access to cars so for a lot of the young people, getting lifts into town, to job interviews or college, isn’t really practical.”  

Three times a week, up to 70 ten to 20-year-olds gather at the former Martyrs’ Church for activities that focus on experiential learning, including  the Saddle Soar mountain biking club which promotes an active lifestyle and increased independence.  

“The activities develop social and life skills, introducing the young people to new experiences that they might not otherwise get,” says Neil.  

“An increasing amount of research now points to the benefits that people, young people in particular, gain from spending time outdoors. It nurtures their development."  

reCYCLE called upon GCU students, staff and the wider community to donate bikes. The first drive resulted in 16 donated bikes.  

Susan Grant, GCU’s Community and Public Engagement Coordinator and the lead behind reCYCLE says: “If we’re going to give young people bikes, we want to make sure they’re road worthy and that the young people are equipped to sustain them so we also provided bike maintenance training which will help them learn new skills. We’ve secured support from The Bike Station so we’ll bring the young people on to campus so they’re learning in a university environment.  

“That knowledge can be shared with their peers in a mentor role encouraging responsibility and investment in their own community – and of course prolonging the lifespan of the bikes.”

SiMY is also running sessions following the bike maintenance training so that the young people have the tools to fix their own punctures or sort their own chains.

Bike company Evans Cycles supported the initiative by offering customers the chance to trade-in their old bikes, which were passed on to the ReCycle scheme.

Outdoor store Tiso ran an outdoor clothing recycling initiative in its Glasgow stores, passing on clothing to SiMY to help the young people to get involved with its outdoor activity programme, which includes the DofE Award scheme, the John Muir Award, camping, biking, climbing, hiking and a range of other activities designed to help them live healthier, more environmentally friendly lives.

Tiso’s Local Marketing Co-ordinator Matt Wilberton said: “As a GCU graduate, I was delighted to be involved in the project. It has given us more in-depth community engagement and SiMY is a stone’s throw from our Glasgow Outdoor Experience store. It is great to be able to help people with outdoor and leadership skills and helping them to get away from some of the challenges in their lives. It also helps us encourage our core customers to think about the help their unwanted donations