BIkery VOLUNTEER TESTIMONIALS

 

The Centre for Better Health recognises a healthy community is an inclusive community in which individuals can live satisfying and hopeful lives and where there is no stigma about mental ill health.

Our Social Enterprises, Better Health Bakery, Better Health Bikes and Better Health Products, are each a thriving example of this ethos in practice.

Here we celebrate the inspiring stories and work that we see our volunteers producing day-in and day-out. Click below to read about their experiences…

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Pike

What have been the benefits of volunteering at the bikery?
I have learnt a huge amount about bike repairs and building that I could not have learnt on my own! I feel that I understand many areas that were previously unknown to me, and also met great people!

What have you done well that you can be proud of?
I have worked on bikes that have been sent out onto the shop floor and have helped to recycle many bikes that otherwise would go to waste.

What have you found challenging?
Remembering all the details of bike mechanics and realising the enormous breadth of parts and differences between them.

What feedback do you have for us?
My feedback is almost strictly positive. I think the team is very welcoming and helpful.

Name one thing that inspires you about this kind of work and what have you most connected with?
I enjoy the hands-on directness of it, the act of fixing something broken or unwanted rather than throwing it away.

What advice could you offer to a new volunteer starting in the bikery?
Work carefully and patiently - broken or rare bikes can drive you up the wall if you are not careful!

How has this experience influenced your ideas about the workplace?
It has made me see how welcoming and supportive a workplace can be if it is run well and built on positive social and health values.

How do you see yourself applying what you have learnt here in the future?
I will be more capable of diagnosing and fixing my/my friends bikes. I may try to find work in a similar shop too - preferably with a similar social, environmental and health focus.

What are you doing now you have finished volunteering?
A lot of music, and part time work that might be music, bike related or otherwise!

 

David

What have been the benefits of volunteering at the bikery?
I've learned technical skills and have met new people. I've really enjoyed being around the team, they're all good guys, and honing my skills. I hope to be back later in the year!

What have you done well that you can be proud of?
I completed my City & Guilds in bike maintenance and have been able to use these skills whilst volunteering, and I'm still learning new things every time I come here! Working here you learn loads of stuff, it's really useful!

What have you found challenging?
Communicating was a challenge at first. I wasn’t used to speaking to new people and had gotten used to my own space, so appreciated the chance to get to know new people. I've also learned new things - every bike is different - but I've enjoyed this challenge as it's been a chance to learn new skills.

What feedback do you have for us?
You guys are great! You've got me through so much. I never would have thought about studying bike mechanics without the encouragement of Better Health Bikes!

Name one thing that inspires you about this kind of work and what have you most connected with?
The fact that I'm helping a charity inspires me. Building bikes for sale and that this contributes to the charity's income makes me feel good. I feel inspired to do more volunteering work, maybe with a homeless charity I know of near my home.

What advice could you offer to a new volunteer starting at the bikery?
Do the City & Guilds course as soon as you can after finishing your placement, while it's still fresh in your mind!

How has this experience influenced your ideas about the workplace?
It's given me hope and shown me that the workplace can be a friendly and caring environment. It's given me the confidence to go out and try other things.

How do you see yourself applying what you’ve learnt here in the future?
Eventually I'd like to be building bikes at home and be in charge of my own hours. I may even try and find a part-time bike mechanic job somewhere.

What are you doing now you have finished volunteering?
Enjoy my Thursday nights and Friday mornings again - for a while at least!

 

Matthew

What have been the benefits of volunteering at the bikery?
Got to meet a whole bunch of wonderful people, has brought me out of my shell and has given me huge amount of confidence. Thanks to amazing support and advice from the staff - job ads from the Employment Lead, advice from the Commercial Lead and tips from the mechanics - I got a job! This is a very comfortable place to grow.

What have you done well that you can be proud of?
I have built quite a few bicycles which I am quite proud of every time one of them sells in the shop. I also did a Lands End to John O'Groats charity cycle ride, raising over £1k for the charity - it took 19 days (with beer stops)!

Name one thing that inspires you about this kind of work and what you have most connected with.
Inspiration comes from the creativity of taking a rusty old piece of junk and creating something new out of it. It's very logical in that there's a right and a wrong way to do things, but bringing all the pieces together to create a unique product is very special and the fact that the product is created by people recovering from mental ill-health is what makes Better Health Bikes stand out from all the other bike shops in town!

What advice could you offer to a new volunteer starting at the bikery?
Push the envelope, enjoy the creative process, use all the posh components that are available in the workshop to create a shiny new object (as well as the standard bikes that the shop needs to sell). Don't be worried about what you don’t know and ask as many questions as you possibly can. Use it as an opportunity to learn and if something is taking too long, don't sweat it!

How has this experience influenced your ideas about the work place?
I've been self-employed for most of my professional career so don't have much to compare to. However, the idea of having vulnerable people in the workplace isn't usually associated with productivity, but here you're learning and growing. To an outside observer it might give them different ideas about who they can employ in the future.

How do you see yourself applying what you have learnt here in the future?
Everything will be applied - you guys (and YouTube) taught me everything I know about bikes. Before volunteering here I'd done a strip and rebuild of a vintage Peugeot, which is what gave me the bug to work on bikes and led me to volunteering in the first place.

What are you doing now that you have finished volunteering?
I will be working full-time in a bicycle shop, two minutes from my house, getting paid to do what I enjoy!