Bristol’s award winning community bike project, a ‘lifeline’ for many, calls for help in finding new home
The Bristol Bike Project, a much loved community project in the heart of St Pauls, is launching a public campaign to help them secure new premises as their future at Hamilton House becomes uncertain.
The Project, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, is one of the UK’s most successful and comprehensive community bike projects. They say the support they received from Coexist, who currently manage Hamilton House, during their time in the building has been crucial to their success as a community organisation. But Coexist have recently been forced to leave behind this beacon of Bristol’s diversity and community spirit.
One of BBP’s founders, James Lucas, says everyone at the Project is ‘extremely sad that we will no longer be a part of the Coexist family here at Hamilton House and would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to them for all the amazing support they have given us over the last ten years.’
While they don’t yet know when, the Project have also been asked to leave by the building’s landlord, C&C, making their search for a new home increasingly urgent. Mike Lowe, a director at the Project, said they now ‘face a significant challenge as our tenure at Hamilton House comes to an end next year. We are looking for suitable spaces anywhere in Bristol – we are flexible in our requirements, but need somewhere accessible, reasonably central and affordable.’
Since the Project was founded in 2008, it has empowered well over 2,000 marginalised people to be independently mobile in Bristol, including asylum-seekers and refugees, the homeless and those in recovery. Their thriving community workshop runs programmes throughout the week, teaching bike mechanics and providing access to sustainable and affordable transport for people from all walks of life. They also operate a busy bike shop, open six days a week, which funds their community work.
The bikes rehomed through the Project are a “lifeline” for those such as asylum-seekers with no income, says Caroline Beatty, a former Director of Bristol Refugee Rights. The Project is also considered a second home to many who access it, such as Sean, who was referred by Bristol Drugs Project in 2010 and has remained involved as a volunteer ever since.
“Finding the Project was such an important part of my recovery,” said Sean, “the bike keeps me clean. But the best thing about this place is that it is immediately welcoming. Anyone who has been an addict will know just how important it is to be accepted in that way.”
Determined that they can keep providing this valuable support to some of Bristol’s most excluded, the Project are calling on anyone and everyone to help them in their search for a new premises.
‘We need all the help we can get!’ says Mike, ‘large, affordable spaces in the centre of Bristol are not easy to come by, but it’s crucial we find the right space if we want to keep supporting our local community. Please help us to spread the word far and wide, and if you know of anywhere or anyone that can help, please get in touch!’
Space requirements: We currently have approx 1500 sq ft indoor space and 900 sq ft externally. We are looking ideally for a space to match this, or even bigger to meet our high demand both in our bike shop and community work. However, we can be flexible and creative with these requirements for the right space!
Contact Mike Lowe on firstname.lastname@example.org on 01179421794