Thursday, 28 August 2008

Bike building workshops help former young offenders find jobs

FORMER young offenders are being given the skills to put their working lives into gear as part of Somerset County Council’s Geared Up project.
The county’s Youth Offending Team (YOT) has established the project, which invites young offenders to develop their social and mechanical skills repairing mountain bikes.
Geared Up encourages team working, and provides participants with valuable skills which can lead to employment.
The young people attend weekly workshops and work in pairs to repair and rebuild second hand bikes.
The sessions teach patience and co-operation as well as the practicalities of bike-building.
Geared Up participant Luke joined the project after being excluded from school and finding himself in trouble with the police.
He used the skills taught in Geared Up to find employment, and now volunteers to assist others on the project.
The scheme is open to those who have been through the Young Offenders programme, and are not in education, training, or employment.
The workshops are held in Bridgwater and a limited number of spaces are currently available, details of which can be obtained from Emer NcNicholl, YOT operational manager on 01458 440820.
Geared Up has received £7,500 from the Youth Opportunities Fund (YOF) which has funded the equipment, tools, and bike components used to date.
It is awaiting accreditation under the Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network (ASDAN), which will enable the project to provide nationally-recognised qualifications to the young people involved, which will provide a boost to their CVs and improve their chances of securing a good job.
Emer McNicholl said: “Young people have greatly benefited from Geared Up, and their achievements have inspired them to make positive changes in their own lives.
“It is great to see former young offenders like Luke putting their troubled pasts behind them and helping others to do the same.”
Councillor Pauline Clarke, the council’s portfolio holder for strategic services for children and young people, said: “Somerset County Council is proud to champion the Geared Up project, which enables former young offenders to gain valuable skills and change their lives for the better.
“The council is committed to developing a high quality of life for the people of Somerset, and this project ensures a brighter future for both the young people involved and the community as a whole.”
Completed bicycles will be distributed to disadvantaged young people and victims of crime once they have been tested for road safety.
  • Our photograph shows YOT youth justice worker Nick Foulkes (left) helping young people at a Geared Up workshop. Photo submitted.

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