Every six months bikes abandoned across the network are transferred to Sevenoaks station and collected by the charity, YMCA West Kent. The bikes are then overhauled and repaired by the youngsters on the charity's program, giving them real experience of learning practical skills that they can utilise in the workplace. The bikes are then sold on in the YMCA stores at Tower house, Vale Rise, Tonbridge to raise further funds to support these training programmes.
Elliott Waters, Station Manger at Sevenoaks, says “Working with the YMCA over the past three years has been a great way to support the work of the charity to enable young people to develop their skills in bike maintenance, using the bikes that have been left behind at our stations."
The students attending the scheme learn about bike maintenance through building a bike for themselves to keep and then continue to support the project by working on bikes to sell or help technicians service bikes for customers.
One young man who was on the point of being permanently excluded from school attended one day each week to get some real work experience and develop life skills, has gradually returned to school and will be sitting his GCSEs this summer. Using the donated bikes from Southeastern he is also doing an accredited bike technician course.
Amanda Sheer. Business Development Manager from YMCA, West Kent commented "The project was set up three years ago, but was closed for the majority of lockdown, so is just resurfacing. We are so grateful to Southeastern for the donation of bikes and as a result we have expanded our offer from student courses for schools to now offering full bike servicing to the local community."
Elliott Waters, Southeastern and Amanda Sheer, YMCA are available for interview