Bike Mechanic Training Scheme For Prisoners Extended To Women

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Many Singletrack readers will already have experienced or witnessed the life changing potential of bikes, so will no doubt see the sense in this prisoner training scheme from Halfords.

A Cycle Mechanic Training facility (also known as Halfords Academy) has been launched at HMP Drake Hall, Stafford in a bid to help offenders to get their lives back on track.

Halfords
Justice Minister, Philip Lee with Kim, a participant on the scheme. Photo credit: Fabio De Paola/PA Wire

The new facility will initially offer nine female offenders the opportunity to train as bike mechanics, creating the prospect of steady employment and a chance to put their past firmly behind them. The programme will involve offenders being trained and working on reconditioned bikes on a daily basis. The majority of the bikes are then donated to primary schools in disadvantaged areas to help children access cycling through the Halfords school bike donation schemes.

The bike workshop will also help to grow the number of female bike mechanics in a profession which has been traditionally male dominated.

(L to R) Halfords CEO Jill McDonald, Kim and Justice Minister, Philip Lee. Photo credit: Fabio De Paola/PA Wire
(L to R) Halfords CEO Jill McDonald, Kim and Justice Minister, Philip Lee. Photo credit: Fabio De Paola/PA Wire

The workshop at Drake Hall is the second facility set up by Halfords, the first being at Onley Prison near Rugby, which has been running for two years. Last year, the Academy at Onley won the Department for Work and Pensions See Potential award.

Jill McDonald, Halfords’ CEO said:

“We’re very proud to launch the second Halfords Academy at Drake Hall and excited at the prospect of helping to tackle reoffending whilst also producing highly skilled colleagues.

“Businesses supporting rehabilitation makes perfect sense, as it increases the talent pool, lowers the cost of reoffending and contributes to safer communities. The more productive people are whilst in prison, the more they can learn and the better their chances of succeeding once they leave.

Ultimately, our success at Onley is owed to our brilliant team there that have shown a huge amount of commitment to making this project a success. It is their enthusiasm, openness and drive to succeed that has led us to extending the Halfords rehabilitation programme to Drake Hall.”

(L to R) Kim, Justice Minister, Philip Lee and Halfords CEO Jill McDonald. Photo credit: Fabio De Paola/PA Wire
(L to R) Kim, Justice Minister, Philip Lee and Halfords CEO Jill McDonald. Photo credit: Fabio De Paola/PA Wire

Justice Minister, Philip Lee, said:

“This is an excellent scheme which gives women the vocational skills and education they need in preparation for release. It will give them a new start – helping to reduce reoffending and turn their backs on crime.

“We are committed to helping all offenders turn their lives around so they don’t get stuck in the cycle of crime. We want to see offenders entering the workplace and making a success of their lives.”

(L to R) Halfords CEO Jill McDonald, Kim and Justice Minister, Philip Lee. Photo credit: Fabio De Paola/PA Wire
(L to R) Halfords CEO Jill McDonald, Kim and Justice Minister, Philip Lee. Photo credit: Fabio De Paola/PA Wire

It’s great to see the industry taking steps to address the gender imbalance that exists. It’s also good to see a scheme which helps female prisoners into employment – especially given that so many women are imprisoned for non violent offences. A chance of good employment can really help break the cycle of reoffending. Let’s hope that the scheme helps these women turn their lives around.

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Comments (5)

    Please tell me that coat is a terrible bet.

    As is the press release:

    “We are committed to helping all offenders turn their lives around so they don’t get stuck in the cycle of crime”

    I think this is excellent new and it’s great to see a business like Halfords investing in something like this, which could potentially provide a real benefit to some people.

    Just a shame they can’t provide some of their current shop staff with the same training & knowledge.

    This can only be a good thing. Well done Halfords and especially those people trying to brake any bad “cycles”, sorry sorry about that.

    How about giving someone who has not been a burden on society a similar chance?

    Or should I just go take a few more of liberal pills?

    @billyboy
    You are a burden on society. Everyone is a burden on society. Helping one another out and focusing on those with the least power isn’t stealing from you.

    I suggested this idea, but with cytec as the qualification, when I worked in prison education, but the Jeremy Clarksons hated it at an instinctive level. I wanted it to be related to the self-employment classes we ran, partially supported by Barclays, would you believe. To be honest, I think that Halfords will do a better job, because they’ll have the power to get things moved beyond the obstructive “what have they done to deserve it?” attitudes that hold back prison reform.

    I’m not knocking Halfords, or this ‘initiative’, but retail recruitment is not exactly a buyer’s market so the line between benefit and exploitation isn’t an absolute one. They join Timpson in having the courage to see a willing market when it’s presented. And, to please billyboy, we should note that this is training for hourly paid, minimum wage retail work in which the staff have very few opportunities for advancement and the ‘qualifications’ are in-house ones that have reduced transferable value, compared to the industry standard.

    However, if the standard of mechanical nous in my local Halfords is improved, where the staff are very nice, but also often less well informed than me (and I am a lousy mechanic) then I will be quite happy.

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