Banks' support will help more people benefit from vocational training as Christine Bleakley launches partership...

TV presenter Christine Bleakley has helped launch a new scheme that sees Barclays extend its sponsorship of cycling initiatives in the capital by teaming up with London-based Bikeworks to help more than 100 disadvantaged people in the city find work in the bicycle industry.

The financial institution, sponsor of the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme and Barclays Cycle Superhighways, has given its backing to a scheme drawn up by Bikeworks called Cycle into Work aimed at getting homeless people into employment.

Bikeworks, a social enterprise, already works with homeless hostels and shelters in London, and Barclays support will allow it to provide its Build a Bike maintenance course to another 150 of the capital’s homeless.

Barclays will be supporting the scheme financially as well as through volunteering and mentoring undertaken by members of its staff.

According to Bikeworks, Build a Bike provides an entry point to City & Guilds qualification stage Cycle into Work, and establishes whether candidates have what it takes in terms of skills and drive to move onto the next level.

Some 50 people participating on the course will have the opportunity to become qualified in Cycle Mechanics and Customer Service, which Bikeworks provides in the form of on-the-job training at its training centres in Bethnal Green and Ladbroke Grove.

It aims for at least half of those graduating from the course to find jobs afterwards.

According to the bank’s group chairman, Marcus Agius, “Barclays latest community investment programme ‘Cycle into Work’ is a natural fit and extension of our London cycle sponsorships – Barclays Cycle Hire and Barclays Cycle Superhighways.

“We are particularly keen to help young people develop the skills they need to manage their finances effectively, and help them build the necessary literacy, numeracy and employability skills to play a full role in society.”

Dave Miller, co-founder of Bikeworks added, “Bikeworks is delighted to have secured the support of Barclays to help us expand and improve ‘Cycle into Work’.

“In the current climate this kind of work is more essential than ever and we know that the programme makes a real difference to people’s lives. We expect to help many hundreds of individuals whilst providing the skilled workforce the cycling industry needs.”

At the launch of the initiative, Ms Bleakley heard formerly homeless people tell their stories of how Bikeworks' support had helped them find employment.

The TV presenter herself, who is engaged to footballer Frank Lampard, has just lost her job on the ITV show Daybreak, which she will leave at the end of the year; happily for her, she has already been lined up as co-presenter of another of the network’s programmes, Dancing On Ice.

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.