MCF Bikes Reach Children in Kenya and The Gambia
MCF don’t just offer training to people in prison, and affordable cycling to disadvantaged communities. We also partner with organisations across the world, who identify a need for the people they help to have good, refurbished bikes donated. Take for example Wirral-based Pioneer People, who have been taking bikes expertly refurbished by our prison trainees and delivering them to partners in Africa for over five years. This summer, that meant orphaned kids in children’s homes in Kenya and The Gambia could get their very own bike, for cycling fun and to get to school. Here’s what Mark from Pioneer People says about their partnership with MCF.
“We have recently imported a truck and 120 bikes into Kenya and to our partner Sure 24 Children’s Home. Before the end of the year we plan to send 300 bikes to The Gambia and a further 120 bikes to Kenya. Many thanks for your continued support, we simply couldn’t do this without you and the links you have given us.”
Every bike you donate really does count, so please contact us if you and your neighbours have some bikes we could come and collect, or if your community group or school would like to organise a bike drive. Thanks for your support!
Bikes get dropouts back to school
Offenders at Lindholme and Everthorpe prisons are influencing high school dropouts in Ghana to go back to school.
The men in our prison workshops have been working hard to restore hundreds of bikes for the Avenues Bicycle Project, who ship the bikes from their base in Hull to communities in need overseas.
A shipment of more than 200 bikes are now being distributed in villages near the Ghana-Togo boundary.
Children who trek long distances to school are top on the list for one of the bikes, all of which are in top working order. One of those who rushed to get registered for a bike was 14-year-old Anita Adjei who quit school two months ago. The form 1 student said, “I asked my father to buy me a bicycle but, he says he has no money, I get tired walking for about 5 miles every day and have lost interest in education.”
At Bodada DA Junior High School in the same district, Haruna Issah 19, a form 2 student had also returned to register after quitting for one term.
Its not just the students – a number of teachers who walk long distances to the school have put in for transfers. Now they have bikes they are reconsidering their request to transfer.
Chris Jarrell, Project Coordinator at Avenue Bicycle Project, thanked the prisoners for their work. “These stories reinforce how important the bicycle recycling work you are all involved in is to people living, working and studying in Ghana.”
“It’s a privilege to be a part of this project” – Colin’s story at HMP Kirkham
What’s it really like for the men who work on our projects in prison? “Colin” is a 38-year-old single male offender who was originally serving his sentence at HMP Haverigg where he trained in our bike workshop. He was transferred to HMP Kirkham, a Category D (or “open”) prison in Lancashire, to serve the remainder of his sentence just after we opened a new bike project there. He is due for release in May 2014.
Our Technical Support Officer says that Colin has built up his bike repair skills and is working to a very high standard. He provides peer support, helping other participants in the workshop at Kirkham. The prison instructors have given him additional responsibilities to identify and log the parts needed by the workshop.
Colin served a custodial sentence for drug offences on a number of occasions and is separated from his three children who live with other family members. He now says he wants to move away from his offending behaviour and start a new, crime-free life. To help him achieve his ambition, we are supporting him to undertake additional training on the Velotech cycle repair and maintenance course through a day release programme. Colin hope to achieve the Gold level of accreditation which will be recognised by potential employers.
We are also in discussions with the prison to enable him to relocate to Northumberland when he is released. He has expressed an interest in volunteering and working in our Northumberland Community projects that currently in development and hopes he will be able to re-connect to his family in the North East.
But for now, he’s working hard to restore old bicycles for people in need and to build up his skills.
“It makes you feel good to do this – it makes me feel like I want to get up and come to work.”
“The project is brilliant – it makes you realise how bad things are for some people and I like that someone else is getting something because of what I do – it’s a privilege to be part of it.”