Jack, Sam and Bayley, three Year 11 students from UTC Leeds, explain what the Big Bike Fix is and what it means to them:
Here at UTC Leeds, the three of us, along with a group of students from Year 11, have been supporting the Big Bike Fix charity, a project where we fix unwanted bicycles and donate them to children who do not own a bike. By returning the bikes to the community, we are not only leading towards a more sustainable way of living, as they would otherwise have ended up as scrap, but we are also supporting young people from disadvantaged areas to have a more active lifestyle.
Following lockdown, we felt that whilst children have had a lot more time on their hands, that some of them are not using their time to be active, either through choice or because of financial constraints. Giving young people a free bike incentivises them to get outside and take some exercise, as well as putting a big smile on their face to get such a big gift, especially if the child is from a less fortunate background.
The Big Bike Fix group meets for two hours every Wednesday during UTC Leeds Society time, a weekly enrichment afternoon based on a university society model. There are numerous societies to choose from, including Greenpower Soc (where students build an eco racecar) and BamSoc (where students design a renewable park and ride in conjunction with BAM Nuttall). Our Big Bike group consists of a collection of like-minded year 11 individuals who have come together to do something we love – engineering – and to give something back to the Leeds community. We all love using our mechanical engineering specialism to disassemble, fix and repair machines and, in turn, to make a difference to the environment. In an ideal world, Leeds would become the next Copenhagen – one of the leading cities in the world for sustainable energy and low carbon emissions. Recycling bicycles gives us an opportunity to contribute to this vision whilst simultaneously supporting eco-friendly transport options, reducing our own carbon footprint. It is greatly satisfying to fix something that someone thought was worthless and to bring it back to near its former self.
At UTC Leeds, we work with over 70 employer partners from across the region, some of whom have been fantastic in supporting our work on the Big Bike Fix. Leeds Welding company, MPM and R. W. Cook have donated to us powder coat paint so that we can refurbish the bikes to look like new. The Big Bike Fix has had 278 bikes donated since June and we are really proud to be contributing to increasing this number each week.
If members of the public have unused or broken bikes, or spare bike parts lying around, then we would love for them to be donated to us so that we can gift a repaired bike to a child. The more we can do in time for Christmas, the better!