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Community bike shop puts residents on road to work (20 Jan 2015)

A community bicycle organisation in one of Liverpool’s most deprived wards has helped hundreds of residents get on the road to work by repairing and reusing donated bikes and selling them on to local people at bargain prices.

The Onya Bike scheme in Kensington has sold more than 200 bikes – most of them to customers needing cheap transport for work– since it was set up nearly 18 months ago.

The scheme, backed by a £5,000 grant from the Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority and Veolia Community Fund, relies on unwanted bikes donated by the public and online auction sites . Bikes are then refurbished and made roadworthy by volunteer cycle mechanics.

Stephen Faragher, director of Kensington Vision CIC, which runs the Holt Road project, said: “We’ve had a great response from local people. We buy some bikes cheap on auction sites but we get about 20 bikes donated every month. We’ve got so many waiting to be fixed up or stripped down, we’ve had to take on extra storage space.
“We sell an average of five or six bikes a week. The vast majority are people who need something to get to work on.”

The shop, which also repairs customers’ own bikes, sells cycles for an average of around £40 each but charges more for some of its more unusual stock.
Mr Faragher said: “Mountain bikes are obviously popular but it’s surprising how many people are interested in folding bikes, and old racers as well. We’ve even got a rickshaw waiting to be prepared for sale and a World War II adults’ tricycle which is ready to go.”

Councillor Graham Morgan, Chairperson of Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority, said: “The Community Fund is about encouraging people to re-use and recycle resources. Onya Bike is doing just that and playing a big part in helping people in a very deprived area access employment opportunities and get healthy at the same time.”
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Picture caption: Left to right, MRWA waste strategy policy officer Glynn Stevenson, Onya volunteer Frank Maddocks and Kensington Vision CIC director Stephen Faragher inside the bike shop.

Note to editors
1. The MRWA Community Fund supports community and voluntary sector groups, not for profit social enterprises and schools in Merseyside and Halton.
2. MRWA operates (via a contract with Veolia) 14 Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) for householders in the Merseyside area wishing to recycle and dispose of their own waste.
3. Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority is responsible for the disposal of municipal waste on Merseyside. Established in 1986 following the abolition of Merseyside County Council, it is a statutory Authority that works with all the local authorities on Merseyside – Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral. MRWA takes a lead in advocating recycling, waste minimisation and safe and effective disposal of waste for Merseyside residents.

Media enquiries to Jon Flinn on 0151 709 0505