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.”
Call for NHS to donate wheelchairs for overseas aid
Steven Chandler, Acting British High Commissioner in Fiji, called on the international aid community to remember disabled people in developing countries as he presided over the delivery of a container load of children’s physiotherapy equipment donated by PhysioNet and including dozens of wheelchairs refurbished by offenders at HMP Garth.
Speaking to the Spinal Injuries Association of Fiji, the Commissioner supported PhysioNet’s work to encourage the NHS to pass on more of their redundant wheelchairs. He recalled the triumph of Fiji bringing home the Pacific’s first ever Olympic medal at the 2012 London games. He said “Iliesa Delana’s triumph in the Paralympics men’s high jump is an inspiration to us all.
“But for every medal-winning para athlete, there are millions more in the world who are often hidden from view and forgotten. The British Minister for International Development Lynn Featherstone wrote recently that: “the awful truth is the aid community has also in large part forgotten disabled people. I do not know whether it is because it is too hard or other priorities win the day. But we all must do as we would be done by. Over one billion people
– 15% of the global population – have a disability and there is a direct link between disability and poverty. Indeed, disability has a greater impact on access to education than gender or household economic status”.
PhysioNet is one of Margaret Carey Foundation’s charity partners. It was set up in 2005 after Peter Thompson’s visit to a children’s home in Sarajevo, in Bosnia Herzegovina in 2004 where he was asked if he could help find special needs equipment for the children there. Since then, the PhysioNet team of volunteers have helped provide physiotherapy equipment to disabled children in Eastern & Central Europe and in developing countries round the world.
PhysioNet has a close working relationship with Margaret Carey Foundation, taking almost all the 296 wheelchairs refurbished by prisoners at HMP Garth over the past three years and delivering them to people in need in Fiji, Democratic Republic of Congo, Samoa, India and South Africa.
Helping offenders work to help others
Thanks to funding from Northern Rock Foundation and the Monument Trust, Margaret Carey Foundation is now helping more prisoners than ever before, getting them to work to help people in need all over the world. More than 70 prisoners a week are working on our projects, learning good work habits and skills.
Prisoners are recycling and restoring discarded bikes in five prisons:
- Everthorpe, near Hull in East Yorkshire
- Haverigg, in Millom, Cumbria
- Northumberland, in Morpeth
- Garth, in Leyland, Lancashire
Prisoners are repairing electric mobility aids and gaining certificates in Portable Appliance Testing in one prison:
- Kirklevington, near Cleveland in North Yorkshire
Prisoners repair wheelchairs in one prison
- Garth, in Leyland, Lancashire
Every project is a partnership between the prison and our charity. The prison provides the workshop space, workbenches, any available tools, and an instructor. Margaret Carey Foundation encourages all prisons deliver vocational qualifications associated with mechanical skills. Some institutions deliver literacy and numeracy learning pods in conjunction with the workshop to reach offenders who otherwise will not attend a classroom and we have found this to be very effective.
£600 raised at benefit concert
Music-lovers from the Bradford area raised £600 at a benefit concert for the Margaret Carey Foundation. The Steeton Male Voice Choir headlined the concert which also featured Luke Jackson and the Manchester Airport Choir.
The 80-voice Steeton Male Voice Choir recently won the Leeds “Choirs Rock” competition, and last year performed at both the Rugby League World Cup Final at Elland Road and at the World Club Championship at Headingly. They performed a mixed programme of traditional, classical and modern music.
Luke Jackson was described by Mike Harding as “a great singer, a great songwriter, and a really commanding presence.” Nominated for both the BBC Young Folk Award and the Horizon Award for Best Emerging Talent, Luke has just released his new album, More Than Boys, to outstanding reviews.
TV audiences saw the transformation of 30 baggage handlers, air traffic controllers, fire service and security staff from Manchester Airport into a polished choir under the direction of Gareth Malone in the BBC series, Sing While You Work.
Prisoners help Ugandan youngsters
More than 100 bikes restored by prisoners at HMP Liverpool and HMP Everthorpe have been donated to an orphanage, a primary school, a hospital and a hospice in Uganda, thanks to our partners at BeCycling Africa.The bikes were originally donated by individuals in the Bradford area of West Yorkshire and by Rotary Clubs across the country and taken by us to our workshops at the prisons.
Garth Prison Inmates and MCF Help Get Tonynanook Mobile Again
Disabled Lancashire pensioner Tonynanook Kulurachi has had her life transformed after we were able to present her with a wheelchair handbike to replace her old mobility scooter. Tonynanook contacted us when her scooter broke down, leaving her house-bound at her home in Warrington.
Fortunately we had just the thing she needed, thanks to our Garth Prison workshop in Leyland. The handbike was just one of a number of cycles and wheel chairs donated to us each year that are refurbished through our prison engineering workshops schemes.
While a lot of the cycles and wheel chairs we refurbish are sent around the world it was great on this occasion to be able to help someone in the local community.
HMP Liverpool workers speak out
Our project officer, Katy McCormick, visited our bike project in Workshop 6 at HMP Liverpool (Walton) to award Bronze, Silver and Gold Certificates of Achievement to some of the trainees. These certificates are given when the men reach a certain level of skill, and are also our way of saying thank you for their work. Many of these men have never received a certificate or any kind of acknowledgement before, and it can mean a lot to their self-esteem. She gave a short presentation about the bikes we had recently sent to Bulgaria and listened to some of them men talk about their experience of the workshop. Here is her report:”A really important part of the project is that the men understand what happens to the bikes they repair. I showed them pictures and talked to them about the bikes we sent to Baba Tonka House in Bulgaria. Bulgaria has the highest number of abandoned children of any country in the EU and these children are kept in huge, state-run institutions with little personal attention or care. Baba Tonka House offers an alternative, supporting disabled children and their families to reduce abandonment. The bikes were an unheard-of treat for the children, and a really useful means of transport for the staff.
I then had a chance to talk to some of the men, asking them about what they liked about the workshop and if they thought they were learning anything that would be useful when they were released.
The feedback about the bikes to Bulgaria made a big impact. “Not being funny but some of the lads had a tear in their eye.” “Makes you think that does. Those kids over there.” “It’s good that you came to talk to us.”
They all agreed they had improved their mechanical skills and some thought it might be useful in the future. “I’ll be able to fix the kiddies’ bikes.” “I wonder how I could set up a project like this when I get out.”
The calm atmosphere in the workshop was a plus. “Every other place I’ve been here I’ve been thrown out. Just my temper. Can’t help it really. But I don’t get stressed here.” “It’s just a good mood in here. Calm.”
The men said that in other workshops each man tends to his own work. Here, they are more likely to work together or help one another out. “Sure, I’ll show him [if he needs help].”
As I left, it seemed to me that the bicycles were almost a by-product. What they are really making in Workshop 6 is self-esteem.
From a Lancashire jail to war-torn Sri Lanka
We connect prisoners to people in need all over the world. Watch the short video below – Wheelchairs from Lancashire – to see how wheelchairs restored by prisoners at Garth Prison in Lancashire have helped land mine victims in Sri Lanka — and given children in Chennai, India, mobility and independence. And please do share with friends and colleagues. Thanks!
Garden party guests give £500
Thank you to everyone who came to our annual fundraiser at David and Susan’s house in Wilsden, Bradford. The sun shone, the band sounded great, and together you raised £500 to help us keep our new van on the road. The money will cover the costs of road tax and will make a contribution to the insurance costs. The van is out two to three days a week every week, collecting materials from donors around the country, delivering to prison workshops, picking up the restored goods from prisons and delivering them to the various charities that distribute them overseas.
Susan and David put in a tremendous amount of work to make the party a success (although David can only claim partial credit for the good weather!) and we will try something new next year to give them a bit of a rest. Do please get in touch if you have any ideas or would like to host an event at your house, club or society.
If you didn’t get to the party, you can still donate: just click here <a href=”http://www.justgiving.com/margaretcarey/donate/?utm_source=website&utm_medium=buttons&utm_content=margaretcarey&utm_campaign=Donate_JG_Blue_Large”><img src=”http://www.justgiving.com/charities/content/images/logo-buttons/blue/Donate_JG_Blue_Large.gif” alt=”Donate JustGiving” /></a>