An East London-based initiative that seeks to use cycling as a means of promoting sustainable communities has been honoured at a reception at Number 10 Downing Street after winning an award for Best New Social Enterprise in England.
Bikeworks organises programmes designed to highlight the health benefits of cycling, encourage disabled people to take up the activity, and providing job and training opportunities for people who are long-term unemployed. T also recycles old bikes, and repairs bicycles and sells them to the public.
According to its manager, Jim Blakemore, quoted on the website Community Newswire, "I think Bikeworks was selected because we have grown very quickly and have managed to show a healthy level of sustainability as well as develop innovative programs that have a real social impact.
"These include our cycling into work programme, working with homeless people, training them as accredited mechanics and cycle trainers, our all-ability cycling working with young and old with learning and physical disabilities.
He continued: "Our general 'Cycle Hub' structure has made us very community focused and therefore able to engage and roll out our programs quickly, comprehensively and to those that really need the help.”
Besides Bikeworks, two other initiatives received recognition at the Downing Street reception. They were Global Ethics, producer of the One range of drinks, all of whose profits go towards funding projects in the developing world, winner of the £1million-plus turnover category, and disability equipment recycling scheme, Brighter Future Workshop, which won the turnover under £1million category.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: "I want to congratulate today's winners on their achievements, along with all the pioneering new leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs who are the future of our third sector.
"Charities, community groups, social enterprises and NGOs are all playing a vital role in getting the country through the downturn.
"I am confident that they will play an even more central role as we build Britain's future."
Bikeworks now goes forward to the finals of the UK competition, which is organised by the Social Enterprise Coalition in partnership with The Office of the Third Sector, the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Mr Blakemore said: "Being chosen as a short-listed finalist is great. All of our team are very excited and we hope to go all the way."
To achieve that dream, Bikeworks will have to overcome competition from another cycling initiative that won the Welsh heat of the Best New Enterprise category.
Cycle Training Wales provides training and education aimed at encouraging people to get on their bikes to enjoy the health and environmental benefits of cycling.
In its first two years of operation, the Cardiff-based organisation says it has helped train 1,000 schoolchildren to cycle on the road, undertaken performed 10,000 repairs to bicycles in deprived areas, recycled more than 150 bikes, trained 80 new cycling instructors and organised over 50 courses in bike maintenance and ride leadership.
Voting is now open for the overall national winner on the Social Enterprise Awards website.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.