Caption: Chris Boardman (pictured centre) together with Kevin Harrison, Community Payback manager (left) and Chris Edwards at the Oldham probation bicycle repair shop.
Former Olympic cycling champion Chris Boardman has backed a scheme aimed at supporting offenders to make positive changes to their lives.
The Cheshire & Greater Manchester Community Rehabilitation Company (CGM CRC) has launched a bicycle repair workshop that will be used by offenders completing unpaid work orders made by the courts to enable them to learn new skills.
Community Payback is a sentence made by the courts for people who have committed crime which requires them to carry out work to benefit their local community. The bicycles repaired at the workshop will be sold at cost to deserving causes.
CGM CRC fitted out the bicycle workshop at its Oldham probation office. The workshop is staffed by a volunteer who learned his trade while on courses at HMP Kirkham and wants to pass on his knowledge as a way of providing purposeful activity to people on probation.
Chris Boardman said: “It’s great to see programmes like this which provide the participants with skills and qualifications in cycle maintenance which are great tools to have for the future. Plus, the finished bikes will really make a difference to the people they go to, giving them a mode of transport and offering them that freedom and independence.”
Greater Manchester Police has supplied unclaimed bicycles to help launch the project. Up to five offenders sentenced to Community Payback will work on the bikes two days per week.
The initiative will enable offenders to gain bicycle maintenance qualifications. Repaired bikes will be offered on a not-for-profit basis to community groups and people in need.
Chris Edwards, CGM CRC’s chief executive, said: “I am thrilled Chris has given his time to support the launch of this project because it will not only support offenders to learn new skills but will also help community groups and encourage people to take up cycling.
“Projects like this have the power to change how people work and think.
“Probation works best when people are supported to make positive changes to their lives and don’t reoffend, and I believe this scheme will deliver on that objective.”