A desperate plea to Grantham landlords and landowners to help a nine-year-old community project continue is being made by a group of dedicated volunteers.
Unable to carry on for much longer in their tiny cabin in Hollis Road, the group which runs On Yer Bike is searching for a larger unit.
The project refurbishes used and broken bicycles to sell on cheaply to cash-strapped families and jobseekers needing transport to interviews. Every inch of space is crammed with bikes ready to be sold, some piled on top of one another, stored in containers and beneath canopies.
But with no way of displaying the bikes, the group has little hope of selling many on. And with no way to keep the bikes properly secured, theft is a constant threat. Since the project began, the unit has been broken into three times and dozens upon dozens of bikes stolen.
Ursula O’Reilly is a volunteer, working alongside project founder Sandra Mullin, Stuart McBride, Sam Coates and Phillip Beal. She said: “The last one was the worst because they got into the container and we lost about 70 bikes.”
It is not only the cramped, muddy and cold conditions causing problems, but also the imminent loss of the facility. The cabin in which they operate was leased free of charge by the owner of the neighbouring warehouse, but the entire site is now up for sale.
Ideally, their new home will have water, toilet facilities, measure at least 2,500 sq ft and be in a central location. But most importantly, said Stuart, it must be available at a peppercorn rent.
Stuart, a former police community support officer on the Earlesfield estate, said: “We don’t make any money. We have about £600 in the bank and that goes down every time we go to buy spares. We get no funding, the money just comes from the sale of the bikes.”
Sandra added: “It’s hard. We have so many bikes now, to show them to anybody we have to drag a load out. They should be on display. We need somewhere we can do that.
“This is all about community. There are people out there who can help.”
It is not only local people who benefit from the project. HMP Stocken is a partner, allowing prisoners who have show exemplary behaviour to join the scheme, restoring bikes to work towards a City and Guilds qualification.
** If you can help the On Yer Bike project, contact Ursula on 07561 228478. The group is also appealing for som eone who is web savvy to help promote the project digitally.