Walsall community hub bike theft
Following a devastating October break-in, community group Birchills Agenda 21 in Walsall was left struggling to run its popular sessions teaching children and adults to cycle. With 45 of the 55 bikes needed for the sessions stolen, Cycling UK asked people in the West Midlands if they could help.
And help you did!
Project leader Shokt Fazal was delighted to receive donations and even an e-cycle from people keen to get the group back up and running. Support also came in the form of a new cycle mechanic volunteer coming forward, something the group is especially in need of.
The latest source of help has been Transport for West Midlands. Through their Cycling for Everyone programme, they have donated 14 new Raleigh bikes to the group.
Agenda 21’s Learn to Ride sessions for local children and adults from a community hub in Reedswood Park provide access to bikes for youngsters and adults who may not have one at home and teach them to ride safely for free. The group now has the green light to restart these sessions in December.
Cycling UK cycling development officer Michelle Smith, who has helped the group with information and other support, said: “This is a very deprived community where many families cannot afford to buy cycles for their children, and where many live in small terraced homes with nowhere to store bikes, so Agenda 21 is really a valuable resource for the community.
“The group brings people together to do lots of activities, including cycling, but the real value is how it creates connections and a sense of community.
“At the moment, families are under more financial pressure than ever with the cost of living crisis. As a cheap and healthy form of transport, cycling can help, so it’s vital that as many people as possible can get access to bikes and learn how to ride.”
Donations of used bikes and equipment are still needed to meet the demand from locals keen to get pedalling. The group is especially looking for balance bikes and other cycles suitable for 7-15 year-olds, as well as bikes for teenagers and adults. Donations of equipment, especially helmets, are always welcome too.
Michelle continued: “Another way to help the group become more sustainable is to volunteer even a little time to help run cycling activities for adults.
“The group previously received funding through Cycling UK’s Big Bike Revival programme which gives grants to organisations who deliver activities like Learn to Ride, led rides and cycle maintenance sessions, but due to a lack of volunteers, it hasn’t been able to apply this year.”
I’d like to thank everyone who has helped us and who intends to help us – I said we’d come back bigger, better and stronger after this, and now we can. We’d still love more volunteers to come forward, no matter your age, fitness level or background
Shokt Fazal, Agenda 21 project leader
Project leader Shokt Fazal commented: “I’d like to thank everyone who has helped us and who intends to help us – I said we’d come back bigger, better, and stronger after this and now we can. We’d still love more volunteers to come forward, no matter your age, fitness level or background. Give us a little of your time and we’ll upskill you!”