Upon initial glances, Back 2 Bikes in Greyfriars, Stafford just looks like your average bike store. Upon closer inspection however, there is much more to it than first meets the eye. Back 2 Bikes is actually first and foremost a charity- aiming to get people back into work.
By recycling and reselling bikes, the charity is not only making economical use of what could otherwise be seen as scrapheap material, but also giving people valuable workshop skills and employment.
“The charity is all self-funded, we get all our income from selling bicycles that people donate to us, and it all goes back into the charity to help people gain employment” says chief officer Barry Stamp.
“We’re better known probably in the town as a bicycle recycling charity but our real aim is to help people back into work so we have people that have been long-term unemployed, we have a contract with the probation officers to get probationers back into work and we take people with mental health problems or who are looking to get work experience. The whole thing is geared towards helping people back into work through the recycling of bicycles.”
The charity currently employs six members of staff (most of whom cycle in every day) but volunteers come in to gain valuable work experience in the bike workshop, and garnering skills for their CVs. Some have come in as apprentices and worked their way up to full time employment.
Back 2 Bikes was set up in 2005 as a joint venture between Stafford Borough Council and bicycle enthusiasts within the town to support a council agenda to recycle materials and officially became a charity three years ago.
“There was this feeling with the cyclists in the town that this could be a way of involving people in workshop skills and from that we’ve grown over the years to what we are today” says Barry. Over the coming months, he explains, they hope to expand Back 2 Bikes into the trade of more new bikes.
The shop itself has a more than satisfying variety of bikes and cycling accessories on offer. Bikes for every day cyclists, mountain bikes, fun and colourful kid’s bikes, stylish pastel coloured bikes – even a unicycle! There are bikes dating back to 1907 right up to the present day, and an impressive disabled bike which I’m told has just been sold to a lady with cerebal palsy. Also on offer is a professional repair service, with the mechanics often fixing bikes which have been turned away from other shops.
Around ten bikes a day are donated to the charity which relies heavily on donations, and without the generosity of the general public, the police, the train station and Halfords, they wouldn’t be able to operate. They sell vintage parts as well as fully operating bikes. “We’ll sell anything and everything we can” says Barry.
With the country in a disarray of unemployment, obesity, waste and environmental destruction, Back 2 Bikes is a wholly commendable venture. We took a tour round Back 2 Bikes, check it out in the video below.
To find out more about Back 2 Bikes, visit their website or pop in to Unit 4, Grey Friars Way, Stafford ST16 2RF.