Tweeddale charity lacks funding but not ambition

Upcycle and recycling...Lynne Marshall with just some of the bikes which have been recycled or donated to the Just Cycle charity in the last year.
Upcycle and recycling...Lynne Marshall with just some of the bikes which have been recycled or donated to the Just Cycle charity in the last year.

A charity launched in the Borders in October 2015 is not short on ambition.

But Just Cycle, sadly, is lacking in cash to fund all the projects it would like to.

Just Cycle launched as a charity in October 2015. It is now keen to get additional funding to do more projects and extend its opening hours.

Just Cycle launched as a charity in October 2015. It is now keen to get additional funding to do more projects and extend its opening hours.

However, that has not stopped its four ambitious trustees and dedicated band of volunteers planning for the future.

Based at Tweedbank Craft Centre, in the last year the charity has worked on hundreds of bikes saved from Borders Council recycling centres or donated by members of the public.

These bikes are then sold on at a reasonable price to entice people back onto their bikes and help finance the charity.

Just Cycle also works with the criminal justice service which collects bikes on behalf of the charity.

Offenders can then work off their unpaid community service by helping breathe new life into them – while learning new skills too.

And the Ebba Centre in St Abbs also helps to promote and sell Just Cycle bikes.

There’s little doubt that the charity has come a long way in just over a year but its trustees would love the first bike recycling service in the Borders to do even more.

So they are currently trying to source funding to help pay for a full-time employee.

This would enable the Tweedbank base to open four or five days a week, instead of the two afternoons it currently operates on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Trustee Lynne Marshall explained this week, though, just how difficult it is proving to source funding.

She said: “We have come a long way in a year but there’s so much more we could do if we could get funding to open four or five days a week and to pay for a full-time employee.

“Borders College is now interested in arranging placements with us but we don’t have the capacity to do that at the moment.

“We’d also like to make more of our location near the station by establishing a bike hire service there.

“But again, we need the funding to get these projects off the ground.

“At the moment, we rely on small grants from trust funds to cover our overheads but we’d dearly love to be self-financing and to turn Just Cycle into a social enterprise.

“We believe that would be possible if we could attract funding for a year or two to help us get established.

“But attracting that funding is not easy as there are conditions attached to lottery and European funding.”

But this ambitious team won’t let the small matter of a few knock-backs stop them.

They are currently investigating the possibility of securing some match funding from the Scottish Government’s Sustainable Transport scheme.

And they are keen to hear from any locals – individuals or businesses – who could help with storage.

Lynne said: “We don’t expect to get something for nothing but we don’t have a lot of cash to spend on more storage, which we desperately need.

“We have a lot of bikes in stock just now and storage is becoming a problem.

“It would be ideal if we could find some storage space in Tweedank.”

Since opening in October 2o15, Just Cycle has upcycled and sold hundreds of bikes.

Being able to help everyone afford a bike is a cornerstone of Just Cycle’s philosophy. It has also donated bikes to a number of worthy good causes.

But again, the charity is keen to do so much more.

Lynne added: “We don’t, as yet, collect bikes from all the Borders recycling centres and we’d love to be able to do that and expand.

“We’d also love to team up with other groups and organisations, such as the Men’s Shed groups, to get them working on some of our bikes and projects.

“We could also set up workshops to help people learn new skills, while working on the bikes.”

While keen to further develop thecharity, the trustees are pleased with its many successes so far.

Lynne added: “We’d like to thank everyone for their support in our first year.

“We are delighted with the success of the project and we have dcome a long way in a short period of time.

“It has been a tremendous success in its first year and we hope that will continue.”

Due to its opening hours, the charity is limited in the number of volunteers it can currently enlist.

However, if you could support the charity by donating or buying a bike, or could offer storage premises, please call the Tweedbank centre on 01896 208180 on Tuesdays or Wednesdays from 12pm to 4.30pm.

Putting the wheels in motion

The idea for Just Cycle stemmed from another project Lynne was involved in.

She is currently employed by Scottish Borders Council on a capability building project, mainly targeted at the elderly. It promotes people doing something in their communities for themselves.

Lynne said: “We were also looking at how people could improve their levels of physical activity and cycling came up as it’s a low-impact exercise which is easier on your joints.

“At the same time, I saw a lot of bikes going to the tip and wondered what was wrong with them. Believe it or not, some people dump bikes just because they have a flat tyre and most of them go to landfill.

“So we held a meeting in Galashiels and it all stemmed from there.”

Just Cycle became a company limited by guarantee in July 2015 and was registered as a charity in October that year.

Scottish Borders Council worked closely with the charity to ensure that bikes headed for landfill were diverted to Just Cycle instead.

Cycle Scotland and the National Lottery’s Awards for All scheme helped fund the start-up costs.

Business Gateway and Scottish Borders Social Enterprise Chamber were also a big support to the charity.

Just Cycle works to reduce inequalities in the Borders, protect the environment and educate people, helping them develop new skills and understand the many benefits of getting back on your bike. The charity’s chairman Grant Martin has been instrumental in its success story.

Lynne added: “Grant does a huge amount for the organisation and without him we certainly wouldn’t be where we are now.”

For more details, visit www.facebook.com/justcycle1.