Interlinkx CIC was founded by Keir Apperley, founder and manager of Cycling Club Hackney in 2007. Having worked with youth groups in Hackney for over 12 years, he recognised that a bike maintenance project could have the potential to engage disenfranchised young people on local estates.
Based in the Fawcett and Nightingale Estates as well as the Concorde Centre, this project focused on marginalised young people and their families. Targeting BAME and refugee communities, and those with little access to cycling or high quality equipment.
‘The bikes bring such a wide range of people, religions and communities together. I’m so proud of that – it’s such a treasure’, says Keir.
TfL’s Cycling Grants London grant scheme funds the project’s cycle sports and maintenance sessions, in partnership with Hackney Homes and Cycling Club Hackney. The scheme taught young people to put together and maintain a bike. This provided the foundation for many to progress to road safety skills and cycle sports.
Interlinkx sought 6-10 young residents to work as volunteers on the project and to gain skills and confidence in bike mechanics. Professional coaches and Peer Mentors were able to guide participants to build confidence and participate in cycling as a means of transport. Some participants went on to take part in competitive sporting activities at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park Velopark.
The primary challenge for participants was the access to equipment. The project budgeted for bike hire at the Velopark, to support families and youth on low incomes and benefits to access the road circuit and velodrome track. Cycling Club Hackney also loaned a number of bikes to the project.
‘It’s really good – I’ve been coming here for 6 years, since I was 10 – now I’m top of the class! It’s amazing,’ - Gabe, 16 year old participant.
The partnership with the Olympic Velopark provided access to the highest quality venue for the young people and their families to get involved in cycling. According to Giuliana Molinari, Interlinkx cic Director, the project’s legacy, outreach, talent development and community cohesion was able to provide opportunities for all.