New scheme encourages North Lanarkshire offenders to help kids

Men involved in Restorative Justice's new scheme in North Lanarkshire show off some of the bikes they have refurbished.
Men involved in Restorative Justice's new scheme in North Lanarkshire show off some of the bikes they have refurbished.

Offenders serving community payback orders in North Lanarkshire are refurbishing and donating bicycles to help local school children.

The innovative scheme sees old bikes rescued from recycling centres and put back on the road for primary pupils to do their cycling proficiency.

Based out of a special workshop in Bellshill, those serving payback orders are given the chance to build on their rehabilitation, develop new skills while giving something back to communities.

Run by North Lanarkshire Council’s Restorative Justice team, the workshop has struck-up a partnership with St Thomas Primary in Wishaw for bikes to be given to pupils to use in the school.

The workshop supervisors have undertaken specialist training enabling them to teach and train the offenders in a scheme which is accredited by the Bicycle Association.

Offenders’ learn about workshop safety, tools and lubricants, brake set-up, hubs, headsets, gears, wheel truing and team work.

Workshop supervisor Billy Fleming, Restorative Justice placement manager said: “We’ve just started this programme and those taking part have been really positive about it. It’s a new set of skills for them to learn and gives them the chance to do something practical for the community.

“Some of the folk have never worked on bikes before while others hadn’t touched a bike since they fixed their own as youngsters. It’s a great thing to learn about as you can really transform what seems like clapped-out old bikes into working machines for people to use again.”

Local recycling centres receive around 200 unwanted bikes each month with many now being brought back into use. Those which can’t be refurbished are stripped down for parts.

Justice services work with offenders on community projects which deliver work programmes helping address issues including victim awareness, anger management, alcohol and drug misuse and domestic violence.

North Lanarkshire Council’s education convener Councillor Frank McNally said: “This project ticks so many boxes from recycling to rehabilitation and improving the health and well-being of kids in our schools.

“The bikes are saved from landfill, offenders get the opportunity to develop skills which will help them gain employment and local children learn how to cycle and boost their fitness.”

Plans are being put in place to widen the scheme out to include other schools across North Lanarkshire.