'We're giving bikes to key workers so they don't have to risk commuting on public transport'

For many of us the concept of travelling and moving around may seem like a distant memory.

It’s been four weeks since we’ve nipped somewhere in the car or jumped on the bus.

The same cannot be said though for key workers, who are still required to get to their place of employment. Whether that’s by car, bus or train; naturally it brings a level of risk.

Jeyda Heselton has come up with an idea that takes away that worry, while also helping the environment. She’s the CEO of Handlebars, a bike repair company in London, and during these tough times they’ve decided to launch a campaign, sourcing second hand bicycles and giving them to NHS staff for free.

“When all of the coronavirus stuff exploded, we sat down as a team and thought about how we can help," she said."We’ve got a team that are experts with bikes and I think it’s important we’ve used our skills and our expertise, to be able to support in the way that we can.

“You’ve obviously got key workers who are still having to travel to work on public transport, and at the moment, it's something to be avoided. The commute is one area that I really feel like we should try and minimise the risk of infection, especially for people who are having to go into hospitals. So it’s an area we thought we could really support.

“We started out by just offering our services for free to NHS workers and we also loaned out all our Brompton bikes to NHS staff and we got a really good response from that so we decided to actually just take it further, and we decided to crowdsource bikes so we could get more of them to NHS staff.”

It isn’t just second-hand bikes that Jeyda and her team are looking for. They also have a JustGiving page, with all donations going towards buying second-hand bikes themselves, or fixing up their current stock. At the time of writing, they are closing in on their target of £500.

But perhaps our favourite part of this particular tale is that each bike isn’t simply thrown out and forgotten. Just like Peak, Handlebars are storytellers too.

She explained: “When people donate a bike, I always ask, ‘How come you’re not riding at the moment?’ Most people are riding a different bike now, and that’s one that’s just been gathering rust. But there’s always a little story that goes with it that makes it quite interesting, and as we’re connecting NHS staff to the bikes, I’m trying to make sure all of that is recorded, so that we can pass on the stories so that they know the bike that they’re now riding has a history and something behind it.

“I’ve got people that have contacted us that have worked in the ICU units, that are midwives, all kinds of different people and they just say what we’re doing makes a massive difference to them and it’s meaning that they’re not worrying about the commute anymore. So we’re pleased to be able to help out.“

If you're an NHS worker, or would like to nominate someone who is, you can get in touch via Facebook and Instagram, or you can email them at ‘hello@handlebars.io’. If you would like to donate to Handlebars' JustGiving page, you can do so here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/bikesforheroes

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