Life Cycle wins National Award

Published on 01/03/2017

Life Cycle UK has won a national award for Bike Back – the bicycle refurbishment scheme that supports prisoners to gain skills and qualifications by refurbishing donated bicycles.

The Robin Corbett Award for Prisoner Rehabilitation recognises outstanding rehabilitative work with prisoners undertaken by a small charity, working in partnership with prison staff. The prestigious annual award was set up in memory of Lord Corbett, former chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Penal Affairs Group, and is administered by the Prison Reform Trust.

Poppy Brett, Life Cycle’s Chief Executive commented:

“This is a huge endorsement of our Bike Back project. The scheme is so successful because of the unique partnerships we have formed: with the community who donate their unwanted bikes; with the staff at HMP Bristol and – crucially – with the prisoners who commit to refurbishing the broken bikes. Of course, the greatest thanks goes to Life Cycle UK’s dedicated staff and volunteers, whose commitment to delivering a really outstanding scheme enabled us to win this award.”

“Bike Back” is an innovative partnership between Life Cycle UK and HMP Bristol. Life Cycle collects donations of old, unwanted, broken bikes from the local community and takes them to a workshop inside the secure area of HMP Bristol. Here, in an environment as close to a working bike shop as it is possible to create in a prison, an experienced mechanic, supported by skilled volunteers, teaches up to 8 prisoners at a time (around 40 per year) the skills to completely refurbish the broken bikes.

Unlike many other prison workshops, which rely on low-skilled activity to complete very basic tasks (e.g. assembling Christmas decorations) “Bike Back” offers prisoners the chance to use their heads as well as their hands. We help men learn practical new skills that challenge them, focus their minds and help them re-build their self-worth.

Since 2010, they have:

  • Saved 1,500+ broken bikes from landfill
  • Enabled 200+ prisoners to enjoy meaningful activity, learn new skills & improve employability
  • Returned 1,266 affordable, refurbished bikes to the community

In 2015, this scheme was accredited as a City & Guilds Training Centre, so now award prisoners industry recognised qualifications in cycle mechanics:

  • 90% of prisoners leave our workshop feeling more motivated
  • 75% gain a qualification
  • 77% want to complete further training after release

An independent evaluation in 2016 found Bike Back to be “a beacon of good practice within a prison facing some big challenges” and has received some overwhelmingly positive prisoner feedback:

“I suffer from anxiety and depression. Coming here makes me a lot more happier. It keeps you busy, keeps you out of trouble, gives you life skills and gets you used to working. A lot of us haven’t had jobs. A qualification is the cherry on the cake” – Prisoner

Life Cycle needs donations of unwanted bikes to help teach prisoners life-changing skills. If you have a bike you no longer need, then please contact Lifecycle UK to find out how to donate.