The Bike Station has worked alongside the Scottish Prison Service since 2006. In 2011 the Bike Station Prisons project was expanded with funding from the Robertson Trust. Currently we are supporting the continuation of bicycle maintenance workshops in four prisons, including HMYOI Polmont, HMP Perth, and HMP Edinburgh, HMP Shotts. The Bike Station also established a workshop in HMP Barlinnie, however, the management of this project was later passed to Bike for Good in Glasgow and we are no longer involve there.
The bike sheds within the prison setting are designed to offer opportunities to develop vocational skills through learning bicycle maintenance. Each prison has a different operational model including frequency of sessions and duration of the programme.
- Improved well-being, confidence, self-worth through a purposeful activity that has a demonstrable community benefit.
- Improved numeracy and literacy in addition to receiving purposeful training in a vocation skill
- More vocational qualifications by achieving an industry-standard Velotech (bike mechanical and maintenance) qualification
- Increased employability opportunity with the option to volunteer with The bike Station post-release, with potential for future employment.
- Improved good order, discipline and behaviour and a reduction in violence
- Regular support and training to HMS Prison Staff
- A regular supply of tools required for a functioning maintenance workshop
- Ongoing supply of bikes suitable for refurbishment
- Up to date resources and support to enable prisoners to achieve their Velotech qualification
- Up to date resources and support to provide ‘real-work place setting experience’ including sales cards, costings sheets
Future activity includes
- Developing an improvement loop to ensure continual development within the prison-based mechanical team
- Annual impact report detailing the benefits to prisoners, the prison and the wider community
- Provision post-release placement in The Bike Station, Perth or Edinburgh either through volunteer placement or work placement dependent on experience.
Feedback from the bike sheds
- There is pride and satisfaction in repairing something that is broken
- It is mentally stimulating, particularly around problem-solving
- Peer mentoring improves social and works skills, as well as demonstrating self-worth
- The responsibility of delivering a quality repair results in improved self-esteem
- The achievement of a vocational qualification improves self-confidence
- It is for a charity, which reinforced the time spent working on bikes by the prisoner is not for someone else’s financial gain and they are demonstrating they can contribute positively to society
- It is rewarding to think a child might benefit from a free bike as a result of the work
- On the whole, the work is always available with a good supply of bikes to repair, resulting in being fully occupied – “Time goes quickly, you can forget the problems of being a prisoner”.