It's a challenge keeping the lads focussed and enthusiastic at times but it helps them, knowing that the bikes will go to help someone in need.

Instructional officer Graeme joined the prison service in 1992 and came to run the bike workshop when it was first launched at Deerbolt. Since opening, Graeme has completed the Velotech Platinum qualification so as well as the Margaret Carey Foundation certificates of acheivement from bronze to gold Graeme is able to award up to Velotech gold, an industry-recognised qualification. The workshop is also part of the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme at Deerbolt.  

The workshop at Deerbolt is the most recent addition to MCF, only being fully up and running since the start of 2019. The workshop now accommodates up to 10 learners at a time but to begin with they took on smaller numbers as they set up their workshop systems and got things up and running. Graeme has introduced a system of targets for the lads to achieve, when they get to a certain level in their training they are eligible to be a mentor to their peers, they can help with training and knowledge of bike mechanics. 

Graeme says: "I really enjoy training the learners and then watching them use their new skills refurbishing bikes on their own. It's a challenge keeping the lads focussed and enthusiastic at times but it helps them, knowing that the bikes will go to help someone in need. It also helps them being part of a team in the workshop, gaining useful skills that will help them on release and being able to see the finished product - the refurbished bikes they have fixed using the skills and training they have received." 

In the ideal world, to improve the workshop Graeme would really like a spray booth so they can also train the learners how to re-spray frames and bring even the really chipped frames back up to a high standard. He also thinks some heavy duty bike stands would be useful as some of the learners can be a bit heavy handed! 

The best moment for Graeme so far has been seeing the reaction of one individual when he received his certificates. Graeme says: "Recently I experienced a learner jumping for joy and running round the workshop - I had just presented him with the Margaret Carey Foundation silver and gold certificates. He explained he had never achieved anything to warrant a certificate and he would be on the phone to his mum to tell her tonight. It was good to experience and a reminder of why the bike workshop is a great place to work - for the trainees and the instructors." 

There is always a demand for bikes to refurbish in the workshops, the workshop is partnered with Recyke Y'Bike, a bike recycling charity based in the North East, and receive excess bikes when they have them available, staff and the general public also donate bikes.  

Graeme has recently been acknowledged for his work in the bike workshop, receiving the NEPACS Ruth Cranfield Award

There are plans to expand the workshop into an external bike shop in the grounds of Deerbolt. This would be an opportunity to sell some of the refurbished bikes to the local community, offering placements to trainees and volunteers. Graeme enjoys cycling in his spare time, finding it very therapeutic. The external workshop would also open up opportunities to involve the general public in other cycling based activities.