Shortlisted For National Award, But Needs New Home

Every Wednesday evening since 2012, volunteers at Bike Lab Hastings have opened their workshop on the Lower Promenade in front of Warrior Square to help people restore, fix and maintain bicycles.

Since the project’s inception, they have refurbished over 700 donated bikes, helped more than 1,000 people to maintain their own cycles, and provided over 1,200 volunteer mechanic hours. Over 20 people regularly turn up on Wednesday evenings for the two-hour session during the summer to use the workshop.

Working with people on low or zero incomes, refugees and asylum seekers and anyone from DFLs to life-time locals, the project encourages a D.I.Y skill-sharing culture.

Over the last year, volunteer numbers have grown significantly, as has the number of people using the project. Thanks to its relationship with Kier Group, the workshop receives van loads of bikes, abandoned and cleared from Sussex train stations and subsequently refurbished by people in need guided by volunteer mechanics.

Heather, who built a bike that arrived from Kier Group with the help of the Bike Lab team, says:  “The experience of bringing a bike back into service for me to enjoy has been marvellous. Without the help and instruction I received at the Bike Lab, I wouldn’t have got back on two wheels. I learnt so much”

The project has been successful in two funding applications this year, allowing it to open on Sunday afternoons and to send mechanics to local events to promote the workshop and provide basic bike checks. It is also providing dedicated sessions for Syrian refugees in Hastings, providing transport options for the adults and a source of joy for the children. 

Cycling UK, the 140-year-old UK cycling charity, provided a grant to Bike Lab Hastings. After visiting this summer and being very impressed with their activities they shortlisted it for their ‘Best Community Project’ in their national volunteer awards.

The Bike Lab Hastings team are outgrowing their current home, however. They have been based in the former lifeguard stores on the Lower Promenade at the west end of Bottle Alley since 2012, and the damp and cold conditions – combined with the gradual collapse of the building – means they are urgently seeking a new location. “Part of the structure is now held up with steel props, and bits of concrete fall down regularly, the damp sea air is not very kind to our expensive bike tool sets either”, Andros, one of the mechanics, says. “We could really do with a better and more accessible location.”

If anyone has a possible space, either temporary or more permanent, that could house the Bike Lab Hastings project, please get in touch with them via www.bikelabhastings.org  or Facebook Bike Lab for more information.

The project is open every Wednesday evening from 6.00pm-8.00pm and is located on the lower promenade in front of Warrior Square.


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