It’s Not About The Bike

We showed the Norfolk Police Crime Commissioner how funding is helping young people engage in positive activities

Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Giles Orpen-Smellie, has visited Not About The Bike in North Earlham, Norwich, a project part-funded by SPACE (Supporting Positive Activities and Community Engagement). This partnership fund with Norfolk Community Foundation, Norfolk County Council and the Norfolk Youth Advisory Boards has been set up to help young people, primarily aged 13 to 15, to engage with positive youth activities.

Not About The Bike is a Norwich based charity, which is run by the Henderson Trust and provides a fully equipped bicycle workshop for the whole community. They run open access, drop-in workshops on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to provide a safe setting for young people to socialise in the evening while teaching them bike repair skills. Thanks to the funding, the project, which started over ten years ago, has been able to increase the hours of one of their youth workers to add capacity, helping more young people to get together in an engaging environment.

On Thursdays, the charity runs more in-depth sessions for young people who require additional support to help them engage, and it also offers sessions specifically for young people who are offenders or are at risk of offending.

Henderson Trust Programme Manager Scott helps Jaidan and Morgan repair a bike
Not About the Bike mechanic Graham shows Mason and Lena how to repair a crank

Scott Porter, Programme Manager at The Henderson Trust, said:

“We’re in contact with the Norfolk Youth Justice Service and also the local police, so it allows us to get young people in and actually deal with them on a more intensive level in a smaller group size. They need the attention. The funding that you have provided has allowed us to focus more on that. If we can work with even just one young person a year and take one young person from a path that would lead them to potentially, let’s say, going to prison, and put them on a path that leads them to getting a job. What’s the monetary value in that? It’s hundreds of thousands over that person’s life.”

Some of the young people who attend are not ‘classroom-shaped’. They struggle to thrive in a school environment and there is a risk of them disengaging. Statistics show that more than half of young adults who received custodial sentences had been persistently absent during schooling, so projects that provide support outside of this environment are vital.

Morgan, who has been attending the Not About the Bike project for five months, said:

“I’m part-time at school. Here, I actually learn about something I want to do. Here, you learn more than you would do if it’s in a book, because you’re actually doing it instead of writing. If I’m doing it, then I’m more likely to remember it than if I’m writing it in a book.”

Scott added:

“To give something that is educational, but isn’t formally educational, I think is quite an important thing for these young people – to know that they can achieve something. Several young people who’ve participated previously found jobs as mechanics.”

Positive activities leading to employment can help reduce youth offending – a key goal of the SPACE funding. The SPACE funding also contributes towards the costs of other projects the Henderson Trust deliver in the West Norwich area, meaning they can offer even more capacity for young people.

Not About The Bike uses recycled bike parts
PCC for Norfolk Giles Orpen-Smellie, Lena, Mason, Morgan, Mohammad, Jaidan, Bike Mechanic, Graham and Youth Worker, th

Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Giles Orpen-Smellie, said:

“It’s only when you actually come and see for yourself projects like Not About The Bike that you can begin to understand why they are so important for young people, to give them a positive outlook and a reason to go out on a rainy Tuesday night! I’m so pleased that community-based provision like this is providing young people with a positive alternative.  This is why building stronger and safer communities for now and the future has been a top priority in my Police, Crime and Community Safety Plan.”

Norfolk Community Foundation created this programme, using seed funding from the OPCCN. The fund has now grown to over £170,000, jointly funded by the OPCCN, Norfolk Community Foundation, Norfolk County Council and several of Norfolk’s Youth Advisory Boards. The fund has awarded this sum to organisations across the county to help young people access a range of activities. The funded programmes will continue to run until the end of 2025.

“We’re pleased to see that this funding is already having such a positive impact on young people. This fund has been a collaborative process from the start, and we were pleased to be able to involve young people in every step of the process. At the Foundation, we are always keen to support communities to improve the lives of individuals, and we know that this opportunity has the potential to be truly transformational.”

Catrin Hamer, Senior Programmes Advisor, Norfolk Community Foundation

[Published 22.02.2024]