On Sunday 11th September, I, colleagues from Elfrida Rathbone Camden (www.elfridacamden.org.uk) and more than 20 supporters will be undertaking the London to Brighton cycle ride to raise funds for ERC. But although it would be great if people could sponsor us at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/ERCLondontoBrighton my aim here isn't really to write about the work of my charity.
What I wanted to do was highlight the fantastic work of a small social enterprise called Bikes for Good Causes (http://bikesforgoodcauses.co.uk ) based in Wood Green, London. Bikes for Good Causes (BfGC) is a social enterprise that sells good quality, donated bikes and also provides a full bicycle repair and maintenance service. They also run a small but cosy and welcoming coffee shop and work with the charity Action for Kids to offer work placements for young people with a learning disability.
Yesterday I and 3 colleagues met with the manager of BfGC, Sue Wade and her mechanic Gaetano because Sue had kindly agreed to support ERC by carrying out a service of our bikes ahead of our ride. What struck me when I had contacted Sue several weeks before was how quickly she had said yes (which is not to say that Bikes for Good Causes can always do this – they have to raise income and be sustainable to meet their own objectives). Before my good fortune in coming across BfGC I had been in contact with a huge national cycling chain with a Camden branch which two of us had actually bought our bikes from. That big company didn’t feel able to help us with our request which is of course their prerogative but I did think at the time that it was a slightly short-sighted decision on their part, bearing in mind all the local recognition and publicity we would have given them – way more publicity in £s terms than they could have bought with the £200 it would have cost to service 4 bikes. Sue on the other hand with her vastly more limited resources cut straight to thinking about the schedule for when our bikes would have to come in, in order to get them back to us in time for the big day. This isn’t a diatribe against big companies – people who know me and ERC will know how much we value our support from Arup and John Lewis Oxford Street branch who are fantastic supporters of ours. But I think there is something in our experience about how organisations, big or small can (or might not) retain a sense of generosity and community spirit in delivering their work and in working with others.
So it’s quite right that I give BfGC their recognition and publicity now – they are fantastic, skilled, warm and lovely and in their case small really is beautiful. If you are close enough to get there I am giving them a big recommendation as the place to go to meet all your bike needs. I certainly will be.
I just donated a bike on saturday and was very impressed by the setup. Such a good cause and such infectious enthusiasm. Very reasonable priced servicing and will definitely be going back.
If anyone has a bike which is taking up too much space I would encourage them to donate it to such a good cause.