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Somerville youth & play provision

Safer cycling families, Lewisham, Somerville youth & play provision, BAME teenagers from the local area, including those who are NEET or at risk of becoming NEET, 2015 , £ 10000

The Somerville Youth and Play Provision offers leisure and play facilities for children and young people aged five to eighteen. The facility is a safe place where members of the local community can socialise and have the opportunity to develop new skills. The organisation also works in conjunction with the Police and Local Schools to inform and educate on issues affecting the area, such as gang activity and knife crime.

The Somerville Safer Cycling Families project is aimed at 11 to 18 year olds and their families, 75% of whom are from BAME (Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic) backgrounds. 95% of the project’s participants live on local council housing estates, and often lack the space to store bikes, or money for repairs. As a result, many participants often lack cycling and bike maintenance confidence, or knowledge about infrastructure and facilities.

The GCL grant has enabled Somerville Youth and Play Provision to deliver lessons on cycle maintenance and tools, as well as practical workshop sessions working on the bikes. Participants learn skills like tyre changing, puncture repair, brake adjustments and cleaning, and are also taught how to care for bikes and prevent the need for repairs. Skills such as hazard perception and group riding techniques are also taught, with participants assessed and trained on cycle confidence and ability, and taken on short local rides.

As part of the project, families are sometimes able to rebuild bikes which have fallen into disrepair. Where appropriate, older participants have been involved in this process, and have been able to keep the bikes afterwards. Some bikes are brought in by the participants themselves, while others have been donated by the police, where they have been seized but it has not been possible to identify the true owners. “The kids are learning to build and rejuvenate bikes. It’s great when you see their faces light up when the bike is usable and they are riding it” - Project Leader. The involvement and donations by the Police provides the resources for continuing the project, as well as helping to foster a positive relationship between them and the participants, in a community where there can often be feelings of distrust and marginalisation by the authorities.

The project uses a container, which has been converted for bike storage and maintenance, along with function rooms within the main Provision building, to deliver activities. Skill-sharing is encouraged, with older participants sharing maintenance techniques and knowledge with younger members.

“There are a number of ‘difficult’ participants who have really engaged with the project, and who are now helping to teach younger service users skills” - Project Leader.

Somerville Safer Cycling Families offers local children with an opportunity to develop skills outside of a school setting, and provides an outlet for children whose strengths may not be academic in nature. The project also helps parents and carers build the confidence to take their children out on leisure rides, or use cycling for transport.

To find out more about The Somerville Youth and Play Provision, please visit their website, or follow them on Twitter.