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Building bikes and better futures: Bike Week 2019

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Aaron is working on repairing a bicycle. He volunteers at The Bike Station in Edinburgh – a charity that works with community and youth groups to develop skills and self-worth through working on donated bikes.

He has recently completed Venture Trust's CashBack Change Cycle employability programme for disadvantged young people in Scotland.

Bikes are a big part of Aaron’s life. So is finding a job. Building his own bike and improving his employability skills were the perfect combination.

The programme - funded by CashBack for Communities from the proceeds of crime - is harnessing the benefits of cycling to give young people the skills to get into employment, training or volunteering. It is delivered in partnership with The Bike Station and Bike for Good in Glasgow.

For many, the bike they build also gets them to work, college or place of volunteering.

“The CashBack Change Cycle programme was fantastic because it combined my love of bicycles with some really valuable and essential skills to help me get a job. CV writing, computer skills and qualifications like manual handling, fire safety and first aid are all important to have on any job application,” Aaron said.

“The skills I developed and now the work experience I’m getting by volunteering will make me more qualified to get a full-time job.”

Aiden, 16, has recently started his first job. He often cycles to work.

The bike he rides is one he built himself as part of an innovative employability programme for vulnerable young people run by Scottish charity Venture Trust.

“Having the bike let me get this job. I can get to work on time and don’t have to spend a lot of money on transport,” Aiden said.

“Through building the bike in the workshop and doing the qualifications on the Change Cycle programme my confidence improved and I learnt lots of important skills to help with getting a job.”

June 8-16 is Bike Week and Venture Trust employability worker Zoe Grove said it was great to celebrate the event by highlighting the role a bicycle can play in changing the lives of young people facing challenging life circumstances.

“Participants learn about responsibility and getting up to be at a job Monday to Friday. They get to keep the bike they have built and use it for job hunting, accessing services, training, getting to work, and leisure,” he said.

“There also the added benefits of improving physical fitness, helping mental welllbeing by giving young people the opportunity to get away from things. They can head out to a trail, to a park or green space and escape for a while.”

By volunteering at The Bike Station, Aaron continues to develop his employability skills. As he fixes and services bikes for other people to use - bikes that will hopefully be used by more people to hit the road and tracks this Bike Week and in the future - Aaron reflects on what a bike means to him.

“A bicycle allows me to be active but and puts me in a good headspace. Studies have shown cycling has a massive benefit for mental health. It allows me to travel to more places, it’s independence, an extra leg of freedom, it’s great for the environment and for me it’s happiness.”

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