Main image: Ben Carpenter from Grassroot Communities and young leader Tanikka Green carrying out detached youth work in Newquay Road play park. Picture Grass Root Communities.
Young people in Knowle West have welcomed the news they will soon have a bike club in their area.
Weekly sessions are due to start this April in Newquay Road – with future plans to build a bike track on land between the play park and Ilminster-E-Act Academy.
Knowle West Bike Club has been funded by City Funds – which aims to “promote healthy, active lifestyles among children and young people in the area.”
Idea has come from local young people
But the idea has come from the young people themselves who will be part of the project from the start.
Youth worker and founder of Grassroot Communities, Ben Carpenter, has been carrying out detached youth work sessions in the area since August 2019.
Ben – who used to work for Youth Moves based at The Park – applied for the funding after chatting to around 50 young people a week in Newquay Road, to find out what they wanted.
He says: “Talking to the different age ranges, the one thing that most people had was bikes. The young people said they’d love to have a bike track, off the streets and close to home.
“The younger ones said they weren’t allowed to go over the busy road to Hengrove and the older ones that they were continually being moved outside shops and someone’s house…they wanted to have a space where they could hang out.”
There is funding for two years – and club meetings which will be held around the play park area in Newquay Road could also include trips to other bike tracks.
There will also be a wellbeing theme integrated into the sessions, which will be open to ages eight to 18.
In the second year there will be funding for a container and equipment as well as to pay a bike mechanic and coach.
The lost property office at Bristol Temple Meads has also agreed to donate old bikes left at the train station to the project – which the young people can be supported to fix up.
Ben adds: “It’s about upskilling local people. It’s going to be on their doorstep, it’s going to be every week and there’s flexibility on the programme…, we’ll also have some bikes donated for those young people who don’t have any.
“It will be providing them with a resource and supporting them to learn about it – more than that it’s a focal point and something for them to look forward to each week.
“The key is supporting local people to be the changes they want to see…”
Some of the young people who were consulted wanted the bike club as a place they could go safely and call their own.
Kayden (10) says it would be good to have “everything for young people to learn to do ramps, to ride bikes properly and learn how to control (them).”
And Amber (12) agrees: “Young people on bikes use them on the road, if they had a ramp park it would be good and safe.”
While Charlotte 14 feels: “It would be something to do and hang out and get off the streets.”
Plans for the bike track
Ben is now working on getting funding for the bike track – and has had plans drawn up for three potential designs by Access Sport – hoping this vision will support his case.
In a Facebook Post he says of the plans: “Seeing what is possible is massively exciting and a small step in the right direction…
“We cannot wait to start talking with residents and community groups and see where it takes the young people’s dream…”