We are launching a public campaign to help us secure new premises, and we need YOUR help!
When we started 10 years ago, we made our home at Hamilton House, which has become a beacon of Bristol’s community spirit thanks to the nurturing it has received from the management company Coexist. We are extremely grateful for the amazing support they have given us over the last ten years, which has been crucial to our success as a community organisation.
Since we started in 2008, we have empowered well over 2,000 people from marginalised backgrounds to become independently mobile in the city through access to affordable and sustainable transport. We are now home to a diverse community of over 170 volunteers and Co-op members who are supported to develop lifelong bike mechanic skills, build friendships and have contact with positive role models. And we work with over 60 organisations across Bristol, including Bristol Refugee Rights, Bristol Drugs Project and Second Step, to support some of the city’s most marginalised communities.
However, as many of you know, Coexist have been forced to leave Hamilton House at the end of the year. We have also been told we will need to find a new home some time in 2019.
We are incredibly sad that we will no longer be a part of the Coexist family here at Hamilton House, but we have to see this change as an opportunity to grow the Project and boost our social impact. The Project has gone from strength to strength, and we are proud to operate a thriving community workshop and a busy bike shop. We are determined to keep serving our local community by providing bikes and mechanic skills to those who need them most, but we need all the help we can get to make sure we find the best place to do this!
We are looking for suitable spaces anywhere in Bristol – we are flexible in our requirements, but need somewhere accessible, reasonably central and affordable. We are not sure yet when we will have to leave Hamilton House, but it could be as soon as February 2019 so we are looking for somewhere as soon as possible to ensure a smooth transition.
Please help us to spread the word far and wide, and if you know of anywhere or anyone that can help, get in touch on email@example.com
Currently our shop and community workshop each occupy approx 750 sq ft (1500 sq ft in total), with approx 900 sq ft externally for bike storage. We are flexible and willing to be creative with space, for example seeking separate spaces fo the shop and community workshop) but wouldn’t want to constrain our social impact or ability to generate revenue with too small a space.
‘Tis the season to be jolly and we’re hoping to add some sparkle to your Christmas shopping with some dazzling deals from our shop!
Don’t bother with the high street. Save time and money by getting all your presents from us. Your cycling pals will think you’re a hero, and the money you spend will support our work getting more people out on two wheels.
Here’s what deals we’ve got in store…
BBP merch bundle – £20 (usually £24)
BBP tee & cycling cap (mechanics not included!)
*Tees come in women’s slim fit or universal: S, M, L & XL
Basic bicycle maintenance bundle – £23 (usually £29)
Advanced bicycle maintenance bundle– £50 (RRP £61)
As well as those top deals, here’s some more great gift ideas from The Bristol Bike Project shop.
Bicycle maintenance course vouchers:£30 – £60
What greater present than the gift of knowledge! Learn great skills and save money by building self-sufficiency in bicycle mechanics. Afterwards, you can tell the lucky recipient to make use of our drop-in workshops to keep their bike on the road with their knew found skills.
Lock & light bundles
Ever bought your bicycle a Christmas present? No, didn’t think so. And just think of the gift it gives to you every day with the joy of free, fast and fun travel! So why not give your bicycle a gift this Christmas by keeping it safe and sound with one of our lock and light bundles?
The essential set offers a sturdy Onguard lock and ETC lights for just £29 (usually £33)
Or show your trusty steed just how much you love it and invest in one of our advanced bundles with a Kryptonite lock and Lezyne USB rechargeable lights (this one’s good for the planet too!) for just £66 (usually £73)
How to Build a Bike, by Jenni Gwiazdowski
Jenni is the founder of the London Bike Kitchen, an education space that encourages people to fix and build their own bikes. Her foray into book writing has seen her publish this brilliantly demystifying book – the complete guide to building your own ride! As a special treat this December, we’re selling them for £12 (usually £15)!
Our latest Social Impact report is hot off the press and shows just how far we’ve come in the past 10 years. From humble beginnings working out of a back garden, we’ve grown into a dynamic community hub welcoming hundreds of people through our doors each week, whether it’s to ‘earn’ a bike, volunteer, learn mechanics or just come and have a cuppa!
Here are some of the things we’ve achieved since we started in 2008…
Here are some of the things people have said about us…
Caroline Beatty, a former Director of Bristol Refugee Rights, one of the Project’s first referral organisations says, The Bristol Bike Project “has it all – It’s a working community that boosts skills and confidence, enables people to manage poverty, blurs the line between helper and helped, increases physical fitness, reduces landfill waste and dependence on fossil fuels.”
Sean, who was referred to the Earn-a-Bike programme by Bristol Drugs Project back in 2010 and has remained involved as a volunteer ever since says having a bike and being involved in the Project has had a transformative impact on his life.
“Finding the Project was such an important part of my recovery. The bike keeps me clean. But the best thing about this place is that it is immediately welcoming. Anyone who has been an addict will know just how important it is to be accepted in that way.”
Check out our latest film made to celebrate our 10th anniversary! The Bristol Bike Project: 10 years and counting… tells the story of how the Project grew from a tiny back garden operation to the dynamic community hub it is today.
Made by our good friends at Touchpaper Productions.
This month’s guest blog comes from Rob Reid aka Yoga Dad who has run a series of Yoga for Cyclists taster sessions to raise money for our Earn-a-Bike programme. He’s doing one this month as part of our 10 year annivesary celebrations. Read on to find out more!
I’ve run Yoga for Men, Yoga for Charity and Yoga for Cyclists classes over the past few months. My charity and cycling-themed classes have now morphed into Yoga for Birthday Parties! It’s a big one too. I am joining forces with the amazing Bristol Bike Project again to help them celebrate their 10th anniversary in style through yoga.
OK, so the main event may in fact be a week-long exhibition at Hamilton House in Stokes Croft, Bristol charting their incredible history and future plans. It all kicks off Thursday, 8th November with its birthday party. Not to forget its social cycle, Sunday, 11th November. I’m really excited to be joining the programme by running a Yoga for Cyclists fundraiser.
I have previously raised funds for The Bristol Bike Project through my Yoga for Cyclist classes at 73 Degrees bike shop in Keynsham. Proceeds were used to support its Earn-a-Bike scheme. This offers one-to-one workshops with marginalised people from the local community who need affordable and sustainable transport. I love the fact BBP doesn’t just hand out the bikes, but teaches the individual to learn basic mechanical skills, emphasising empowerment and self-reliance, forming a bond between owner and bike.
It is an honour to work with the BBP team again, especially on such a momentous occasion. My weekly Yoga for Charity classes at the Yoga Loft in central Bristol are proving hugely popular. So, I am hoping to continue this success by raising more funds for BBP through the generosity of my students, investing in BBP and its future successes.
Spaces are limited so please contact me as early as possible to book your place.
The sun is shining, the leaves are turning, and we’re gearing up to celebrate 10 years of The Bristol Bike Project!
We’ve come such a long way since the early days, when we were spannering from an old horse stable on the outskirts of Bristol and a back garden in Montpelier. The mound of donated bikes grew as quickly as the number of people knocking on our doors and before we knew it we were settling into the vibrant workshop in Hamilton House which we still call home today.
The Project started with the aim of offering an affordable and sustainable mode of transport to refugees and asylum-seekers. But from our roots this project has always been about more than just giving away bicycles. We promote sustainability and empower our community by providing an inclusive and supportive space for people from all walks of life. Since we started we’ve re-homed nearly 2,000 bicycles with people who couldn’t otherwise afford one, and welcome hundreds of people through our doors each month whether it’s to volunteer, learn mechanics, or just come and have a cuppa!
We’re also proud to be a co-op led by over 170 members, putting our community at the heart of decision-making and helping our city grow by working with other like-minded organisations such as Bristol Refugee Rights, Unseen, Bristol Drugs Project, and The Big Issue.
Looking back at the past 10 years, we’re immensely proud of everything we’ve achieved and we think all this deserves a bit of celebration! So come hear our story and soak up the spirit of 10-year-old BBP at our week-long exhibition from 8 – 14 November, and be sure to join us for our 10th Birthday Bash on the opening night!
Take part in our competition to design your own Bristol Bike Project tee and you could be in with a chance of winning some top prizes as well as featuring your artwork on cycling chests across Bristol!
All profits made from the sale of the t-shirts will go back to support the community work we do here at The Bristol Bike Project.
So how does it work?
Who can take part? Anyone and everyone! We’re not a fan of exclusivity here at BBP.
The design. As it’s the 10th birthday special, the theme this year will be ‘celebrating 10 years of BBP’! Interpret how you will, and use your imagination! The design must be able to be printed clearly onto A3, must be monochrome, and must be simple/printable shapes/lines (vectorised, or able to be vectorised).
How to submit. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, contact details and design.
Deadline. Midnight on Thursday 1 November.
What could you win. Your design on the illustrious BBP tees, and some other fantabulous prizes (watch this space for details!
The draw. We’ll be announcing the lucky winner at the BBP 10th Birthday Bash on Thursday 8 November!
Happy drawing folks!
The Bristol Bike Project team
And just to get your creative juices flowing, here’s some BBP-ers showing off a couple of our previous winners 🙂
Hi. Sarah Strong here. Some of you reading this may have made it to BBP on Thursday 13th September to the #bikesandbrains talk. If you did, I hope you enjoyed it and found it a useful evening too.
The Bikes and Brains blog, and the evenings that I arrange with cycling venues are spaces where we can talk/share/listen/read* (*delete as appropriate) about cycling and mental health – or riding and wellbeing in general.
Over the past fifteen years or so that I’ve been involved with cycling I’ve detected, what seems to me, a large overlap of ‘people who cycle’ and people who experience mental health issues’ – this got me thinking about how cycling might be particularly beneficial to health but also, sometimes, how our riding can be affected by low mood, anxiety, and so on.
Cycling is awesome, bikes are awesome, but cycling isn’t the one thing that will cure you, even if it feels sometimes as if it does. There is no casual link between cycling and better mental health – there are so many different factors interacting; physical exercise, social interaction or solitude, headspace, to learning new skills.
I have a bit of a pet hate for overly motivational posters, even though I understand the sentiment. I found that as my relationship with cycling developed and changed I was more conscious of how my personal challenges with anxiety impacted my riding. Generally-speaking I think this can depend on the type of cycling you do, and what you gain from it. I suspect that difficulties arise as you push yourself further. I found anxiety affected my racing and had to do a bit of soul-searching to identify what I wanted from the bike.
Eleanor Jaskowska is an audaxer and ultra-distance rider. She spoke very eloquently during the evening on some of the issues she found herself coming up against during the TransContinental Race in 2017. I’d hazard that for a significant number of participants the challenge is equally mental as well as physical. How do you keep going when you’re exhausted? How do you figure out how to push through and keep going? Can you convince yourself that you can do it, regardless of the difficulties you face? Also, about learning as you go along – when and how much to eat, how to pace yourself. Most importantly perhaps, how do you process pulling out of a race? How can you reframe goals and achievements, and avoid looking on an uncompleted event as a ‘failure’.
Ian Walker is a researcher in environmental psychology at the University of Bath and outside of his work he is an ultra-distance racer, having undertaken the TransContinental and recently won the North Cape 4000 across Europe. He spoke of bringing some of the advice he was given during running races into his cycling – about just putting one foot in front of the other, of breaking the challenge up into more manageable sections, also of the apparent absurdity of it all – the What-Am-I-Doing-ness of it all.
Underlying both contributions was the sense of having to keep moving forward. How stopping can mean thinking, and thinking can impact your focus. Your head can get in the way. Sometimes it’s easier just to do and feel rather than to think (which can lead to over-thinking, which can lead to anxiety, which can affect decision-making).
These factors are not just apparent in extreme events, however, and can be evident in an action as supposedly straightforward as walking out of the front door to bike to the shops. In fact, getting through the front door can be one of the hardest first steps! Issues such as anxiety and low mood can be very isolating in various ways. Things can seem conspire against you; if you are experiencing low motivation, lack of energy, and feelings of being overwhelmed it can be even more of a trial to try and socialise with others. It’s easy to isolate yourself further – and then it can be increasingly difficult to backpedal. (I know, I had to get *one* dodgy cycling-related pun in there somewhere!).
The final speaker at the Bikes and Brains evening was Chris Taylor, BBP’s own coordinator of The Social Cycle. This is a brilliant initiative to reduce social isolation. Folks come together once a week to work on bikes, learn, chat, have a cup of tea. A simple idea which can mean so much. Having an inclusive space where people can go and not feel that they are judged is a space where recovery can where confidence can be built, and change can happen.
For me, Chris’s talk underlined how the benefits of cycling aren’t just about the riding. It’s not necessarily about banging out the miles, or even getting from A to B. Sometimes it’s about working on the bike itself and the satisfaction of chatting with people who have a similar passion. I think that when it comes down to it, we’re back to the uncomplicated truth that Talking About Things is much better than Not Talking About Things. A bike can be a huge enabler for this – whether it be riding or fettling. The Social Cycle is a wonderful catalyst for just such a process, and the chance for positive change.
My thanks to Krysia and the gang at Bristol Bike Project for hosting a Bikes and Brains evening and, of course, to Ian, Eleanor, and Chris for offering their thoughts, experiences, and reflections.
In September 2017, BBP volunteer Susannah O’Sullivan set off to cycle 6000km from Bristol to Palestine, where she ended up living for 6 months working as a solidarity activist supporting resistance against the occupation. There Susannah witnessed more injustice and violence than she could have imagined, but she also fell in love with Palestine. Along the way Susannah passed through 15 countries, wild camping along the way and sleeping by rivers, on empty beaches, in farm outhouses and once in a cave. Last month, Susannah hosted a talk at the Project where she told her story of resisting the occupation in Palestine. Here, she writes for us on her bike travels and how volunteering at BBP helped her to prepare.
Early last year I decided to cycle to Palestine. I wanted to cross continents and plunge myself into difficult situations. I wanted to push myself to the limit and see how far I could go. Eager for adventure, I set about preparing. I started volunteering at The Bristol Bike Project fixing old bikes for their Earn-A-Bike scheme, that teaches maintenance skills to refugees who then receive their own bicycle. I was already working with refugees in Bristol, and this gave me an opportunity to work on my mechanical skills and help in the community at the same time. I learned how to strip old bikes and rebuild them, which I then put to use building my own bike for my trip. I ended up wobbling down my lane in Bristol in September 2017, weighed down with all my gear for a cold autumn ahead.
In the early days of the trip I struggled cycling with that much weight, and questioned what I was doing, but by the time I was in Switzerland I was stronger and enjoying the peace and solitude of quiet roads and deserted forests. Mostly I camped in the wild but sometimes it wasn’t possible and I asked farmers to camp on their land. In Croatia a farmer let me pitch my tent in her outhouse and phoned her English-speaking daughter in Canada to ask if I wanted milk and sugar in my coffee. A farmer in Bavaria put me in their spare room and fed me breakfast with fresh bread rolls from the bakery he also worked in. A Greek farmer let me pitch by his chickens, then went out to buy me a chip and tzatziki sandwich and chocolate.
I revelled in these moments of warmth and human kindness as much as I did the moments of calm I felt when I was alone in nature. I felt that my bicycle broke down people’s natural defences about strangers and made people open and curious about my trip. I learned to ignore the fears of doubters, and trust in the kindness of strangers, on which every long distance cyclist must sometimes rely. This was probably the best possible preparation for my time in Palestine, which pushed me to a different kind of limit.