News



By: Luke Dubuis

Posted: Wed, 20/08/2014 - 07:34

BEN SA container loading

Last week we sent another container of bikes to the Bicycle Empowerment Network (BEN) in South Africa. A total of 422 bikes were shipped along with tools and spare parts needed to maintain them. Some of these bikes will be sent to a new Bicycling Empowerment Centre (BEC) in Montagu, approximately 150 miles North East of Cape Town.

Kevin Ablitt and Noelle Peacock

This new workshop is being set up in a shipping container thanks to the support of 2 donors and long term supporters of Re~Cycle: Kevin Ablitt and Noelle Peacock. Together they have raised a staggering £6,000 to fund the project. These funds have paid for the shipping costs of the 40’ container and a 20’ container donated by BEN to the new BEC in Montagu.

The 20’ container will be converted into a fully operational bicycle workshop. William Swanepoel, the new BEC manager, will run the workshop. The funds raised by Kevin and Noelle will also cover business and mechanic training for William to ensure that the workshop is a success. A total of 50 bikes will be sent for the new shop, along with spares and tools needed to kit out the workshop. Kevin and Noelle will also be travelling to South Africa in October to assist with the setting up of the new workshop, to help it get off to a good start!




By: Luke Dubuis

Posted: Sat, 16/08/2014 - 08:33

Prosper Village Bicycle Project

Meet Prosper Dzandu, one of the Village Bicycle Project's master mechanics. Prosper joined the Village Bicycle Project in August 2013 after working on a project with Jason (VBP Country Director) in 2010. Originally a Kente weaver, he retrained as a bicycle mechanic, putting his meticulous skills to use to repair and maintain bicycles. 

Prosper's workshop

Now Prosper runs his own bike workshop 'No Rush in Life Bicycle Workshop' (pictured above). Previously he’d been working out of a wooden shack, which wasn’t secure, meaning he’d have to sleep there every night with his wife. He’s now upgraded to a metal construction so he can secure his shop and not worry about it being broken into.

Prosper's apprentice

As well as supporting his wife and five children, Prosper is training up apprentices in all things bike related. His latest apprentice is pictured above in blue.

Prosper Village Bicycle Project 2

When he’s not running his workshop, Prosper works with the Village Bicycle project to train others in bicycle maintenance (you can read about such projects here). He’s proven to be an invaluable member of the VBP team – clearly communicating and imparting his expert knowledge to all those he works with.

Prosper's tools

Re~Cycle works in partnership with many self-sustainable bike shops – Prosper’s shop is now one of them. We send him bikes and spare parts so he can sustain his business – this is what we call the ‘revolving fund’. He sells on the bikes at a fraction of the market value, providing affordable transport to the local community as well as ensuring that the bikes we provide carry on working for years to come.

We wish Prosper all the luck with his workshop and look forward to seeing him again!




By: Derek Balcombe

Posted: Tue, 29/07/2014 - 08:58

Another container has been loaded and is now on its way to The Bicycling Empowerment Network (BEN) in Namibia. On arrival the bikes will be shared between several of the 32 Bicycling Empowerment Centres (workshops) set up by BEN throughout the country. Most are in rural areas where public transport is non existent and where use of a bicycle will massively reduce journey times normally made on foot, improve the effectiveness of health workers and help generate and sustain local employment opportunities. Please see http://bennamibia.org/about-us-2/ for more information about the impact of bicycles in Namibia. 


Many thanks as always for the many individuals, groups and organisations who donated the bicycles to us and trust that you will delighted at the power of a humble bicycle has to improve lives in Africa. 




By: Derek Balcombe

Posted: Fri, 18/07/2014 - 12:17

This week we have sent off another container to The Village Bicycle Project (VBP) in Ghana. This one was loaded with 441 bicycles and brought the total up to 148 shipments sent to Africa. VBP's Program Officer, Jason Finch will be visiting the UK at the end of August and we are looking forward to seeing him again and catching up on the latest news of their bicycle programs and the impact of the distribution of bikes to rural communities. Most of the bikes in the container were collected on our behalf by Halfords and we thank them and all of their customers who kindly took their unwanted bikes to their local Halfords store during the recent trade in event run over a 5 day period. Very well done and many thanks again to all of the Halfords staff and customers who contributed to the event's success.




By: Luke Dubuis

Posted: Thu, 17/07/2014 - 13:31

The Isle of Wight branch was set up by the late Tony Harding and to date, has collected and delivered over 1200 bikes to Re~Cycle. The branch is now run and co-ordinated by Tony’s son, Antony Harding, who along with the local community continue Tony's legacy.

Recently our Isle of Wight team delivered 134 bicycles, along with wheels and spare parts to our new HQ in Colchester. All this was completed in a single day, with a 337 mile round trip!

Tony’s work was nothing short of inspirational, bringing together people and businesses from the local community to help get these bikes to us at extremely low cost.

 

Tony Harding pictured third from left.
The bicycles are stored free of charge by the generous people at Innerspace self storage in Cowes.  They now receive roughly 7 bikes per week – with locals from all over the island riding down to deliver their old bikes! A local service station, Bartletts in Newchurch provide an 8m long truck to transport the bicycles to our HQ and even the ferry ride is covered by the ferry company, Whitelink.

 

The local community have proven to be instrumental in the success of the branch, with volunteers helping to prepare, load and transport the bikes, even paying for the fuel needed to get to Colchester and back. It’s truly wonderful to see so many people coming together to make this all happen and we look forward to receiving the next delivery! 

 

If you are based on the Isle of Wight and have any unwanted and unused bicycles please email: re-cycle-isle-of-wight@hotmail.com for details. Donations can also be made through Paypal to re-cycle-isle-of-wight@hotmail.com




By: Luke Dubuis

Posted: Thu, 17/07/2014 - 12:50

London to Brighton Charity Bike Ride

Over 2,000 people will be riding from London to Brighton for their charity of choice this September – we need you to represent us!

The challenge begins in South London and through the course of the challenge, you’ll pass through Mitcham, Carshalton, Chipstead, Banstead, Haywards Heath and cross the finish line in Brighton. The ride is 54 miles long, making it the perfect event for newcomers wanting to get involved with long distance biking. The spirit of the event is about taking part, so whether you want to take it slow or have a go at beating your personal best – it’s up to you.

All you need to do is pledge to raise £100 Re~Cycle. To take part simply fill out the online booking form!

Start Point - Clapham Common, London

Registration - 06:30 to 09:30

Finish Point - Madeira Drive, Brighton

 

 




By: Derek Balcombe

Posted: Wed, 09/07/2014 - 08:06

Following our recent relocation to our new warehouse in Wormingford, operations are now getting back to normal and we are currently loading the second container from our new premises and the 15th of 2014 (we did 16 in the whole last year) - this one is for The Village Bicycle Project in Ghana. We are very pleased to have started to recruit some new volunteers from the surrounding area and delighted that virtually all of our long term volunteers are making the effort to get to us, despite in many cases a slightly longer journey. Well done and thank you all.




By: Luke Dubuis

Posted: Tue, 01/07/2014 - 16:32

This year two of our mechanics (Richard Evans and Chris Smith) and two of their friends (Robert Harwood and Stephen Reynolds) will be cycling over 1000 miles from Lands End to John O’Groats in aid of raising £25,000 for Re~Cycle.

One of the projects they would most like to raise awareness for are Safari Simbaz, a project run by David Kinjah in Nairobi, Kenya. David was the first black African rider to sign with a European cycling team, having trained Chriss Froome (the 2013 Tour de France winner) when he was of a young age living in Kenya.

"Good quality bicycles mean that people who have benefited from receiving one of Re-Cycle’s bikes, can travel further, selling goods and providing services such out outreach programs, teaching and medical assistance. All of which would have otherwise been impossible by foot."

Safari Simbaz is a new project that aims to help children from troubled backgrounds, giving them a place to eat, sleep and receive and education. The project also teaches children bicycle mechanics and for the lucky few, a chance at having a real shot at professional cycling.

David has been trying to put the Safari Simbaz together for some time but needs more support to build on the foundations he has worked so hard to produce. The money raised will help David take the project to the next level. Please have a look at this mini documentary about the Safari Simbaz here!

The link below is to the fundraising page for the 1000 mile bike ride that the team will be doing in August this year.

http://www.justgiving.com/ReCycleEnd2End

If we can get 1000 people to give £25 each it means we can change the lives of so many people!




By: Luke Dubuis

Posted: Fri, 27/06/2014 - 09:46

Following last months’ introduction to Jason, the Country Director in Ghana for our partner - Village Bicycle Project, we’ve got some great news as to share regarding a Re~Cycle funded programme that ran over the month of March. 

Jason, Prosper, Akapo, Abdul and Sammy of the Village Bicycle Project held 12 one-day workshops within the Brong-Ahafo Region to accompany every one of the 254 bicycles they delivered. This was a fantastic chance for new recipients to learn basic repair and maintenance skills to accompany their new bike.

The team then ran 4 Tools-workshops – an advanced learning course open to anyone who attended the One-Day workshop, wherein participants could purchase the tools they’ve been taught to use.

Village Bicycle Project programs

Programmes were held in 3 villages (highlighted in red), located in the far west of the Brong-Ahafo Region right near the Ivorian Border.

Biama

Biama -  Ghana - Village Bicycle Project

Biama has a population of 200 – with no light, water or health clinic, the residents are totally dependant on Bodaa for amenities, so having a bicycle makes everyday life much easier. A total of 40 bicycles were delivered along with some high quality tools for the local fitter to use for maintaining the bikes.

Bodaa

Bodaa Ghana Village Bicycle Project

Unlike Biama, Bodaa is a little better off – with access to power and a bus stop. This was the third time in 5 years that Village Bicycle Project had run workshops in Bodaa, with 60 bikes being delivered this time around. The Biama and Bodaa programmes ran concurrently in Biama and it was fantastic to see the previous recipients with the bicycles they’d been given as long as four years ago!

Asiri

Asiri Ghana Village Bicycle Project

This is the third time that Village Bicycle Project had held workshops in Asiri, a much larger village that serves as the last transport link for half a dozen smaller villages beyond it. A brilliant total of 160 bikes were delivered, with many of the previous programme participants attending workshops.

Asiri Ghana Village Bicycle Project 2

Many of the bicycles went to farmers, as the three villages where the bikes were delivered are situated within a large cashew growing community. Farmers often have to commute between multiple farms because their land is spread across patches, a bike saves them vital time and energy. With the cashew harvest coming into full swing, it was perfect timing as the bikes prove to be invaluable to their work.

Village Bicycle Project March Programme

The programme being delivered is now at its most effective and it’s fantastic to see that Jason and the Village Bicycle Project are now leaving behind skills and tools that will make a huge difference to these villagers lives. Having attracted hundreds of people during the course of their workshops, it’s also the most successful programme of 2014 so far!

Village Bicycle Project Ghana April

Learn more about the Village Bicycle Project

Help us provide more bicycles for Africa - Donate




By: Luke Dubuis

Posted: Fri, 13/06/2014 - 13:22

What a day! On Wednesday the 9th of June, Re~Cycle brought together all its UK based partners to share their ideas and experiences. This was a brilliant opportunity for the partners to meet one another, discuss best practice and for us to get an understanding of how to better support our partners in 2014 and beyond!

The partners in attendance were:

Glad’s House, Kaloko Trust, Salvation Army International Development Team and The Wonder Years Centre of Excellence.

The discussions proved to be incredibly insightful and did a lot to increase Re~Cycle’s awareness of key issues faced by the partners. This included the need for basic business training for the workshops, to follow on from the mechanic training we provided in the past few months and how import duties were causing issues for some of our partners.

The day proved to be a great success and as a result, Re~Cycle will be holding a partner event at least once a year!

 




By: Derek Balcombe

Posted: Mon, 02/06/2014 - 08:06

We have now completed our move to our new warehouse at Wormingford, a few miles north of Colchester. Our new address is

Unit 8 The Grove Estate, Colchester Road, Wormingford, Colchester, CO6 3AJ

Tel: 01206 617865

Our new warehouse is only a few miles north of Colchester on the B1508 road to Bures. It is a couple of miles past West Bergholt on the right hand side just past a Z bend a mile before Wormingford village.

It will take us a little while to settle in and get back up to speed but we are already planning our first container loading from Wormingford. We apologise to all who may find our new address, being out of Colchester, less convenient but the Wormingford warehouse was the most suitable and reasonably priced of all of the options we looked at and we think the building will suit our needs very well and we look forward to making it our home for many years to come.

 

 




By: Merlin Matthews

Posted: Sat, 24/05/2014 - 15:49

Meet Jason. Country Director in Ghana for our partner - Village Bicycle Project (VBP).

The Village Bicycle Project in Africa
Jason at work with Village Bicycle Project

Jason’s journey began not so many years ago as a brave Re~Cycle volunteer in London, whilst studying for university and working part time in a local bike shop. After assisting us to dispatch a container load of bikes to Ghana, he was inspired to see the impact on the ground and ventured out to Africa.  

He was so enthused with the impact that a bicycle could have in rural communities that he decided to re-locate to Ghana permanently! As a volunteer, with some expenses, he investigated how our two partners in Ghana were working, what aspects of the program were most effective, what could be improved, and how best he could help….

He then went on a ‘grand tour’ of African bike re-use projects. He was interested to see what our other projects were doing and what other people were doing in general.

As a result of his experiences and findings he went on to spend several years building, developing and managing a self-sufficient, full service bike shop in Dodowa, southern Ghana.

A bicycle workshop in Ghana, Africa
The Ezetela Bicycle Workshop

This was an amazing set up created by converting an old shipping container, with sun/rain awning, where any bike mechanic would have felt at home. It workshop gave great pride to the five mechanics working there and helped develop a sense of aspiration for bicycles with the locals.

The Ezetela workshop had a big focus on repairs, which kept many bikes on the road, reducing reliance on importing bikes and saving people vital money.

A mechanic working in Jason Finch's Ezetela Workshop, Ghana, Africa.
A mechanic at Jason's Ezetela workshop in Ghana

Whilst running the shop Jason developed a close collaboration with the Village Bicycle Project, assisting with various small projects over a period of two years, which ultimately led to him to taking a paid position with them full-time.

Village Bicycle Project
Village Bicycle Project training

Jason is now supervising programs across Ghana whilst building relationships with Ghanaian staff. Together they have improved their bicycle training curriculum and teaching methods, and brought more women into the one-day, and advanced repair workshops.

His team has also implemented a riding program to help women become confident riders, ensuring they get the most use from their bikes and can maintain them properly (Stay tuned for more stories from Jason next week).

Teaching young women to ride in Africa
Village Bicycle Project - 'Learn to Ride' program in action.

Jason’s current focus is on strengthening relationships with village bicycle repairers, and is now working deeper in ‘the bush’ where bikes are needed most.

In addition to his experience as program coordinator and his previous experience working with bicycles in Africa, Jason brings his great sense of humor, excellent photography skills (visit Jason’s Flickr) and love of all things Africa.

If, like Jason, you have a passion for bicycles and would like to make a difference, why not volunteer with Re~Cycle, and who knows where you might end up in a few years from now.

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Learn more about the Village Bicycle Project

Help us provide more bicycles for Africa - Donate




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