Volunteers’ Week 2021: Bike workshop volunteers achieve fundraising milestone for Sue Ryder

1-7 June is Volunteers' Week 2021, when we celebrate the many people across the UK who generously donate their time through volunteering and shine a light on the amazing support our own Sue Ryder volunteers give across the charity.

Over the past three years, volunteers from Her Majesty’s Prisons have raised over £200,000 for Sue Ryder by repairing bikes to be sold at our charity shops, using their creativity to upcycle them while gaining work experience and new skills.

Bikes and work benches in the HMP bike workshop
Bikes and work benches in the HMP bike workshop

Over 50,000 hours repairing nearly 4,000 bikes

Sue Ryder currently has three dedicated bicycle repair workshops inside Her Majesty’s Prisons: HMP Gartree in Leicestershire, HMP The Mount in Hemel Hempstead and HMP Erlestoke in Wiltshire. The workshops offer volunteers from the prisons an opportunity to gain valuable skills through meaningful and purposeful activity, preparing them for life upon release and enhancing their job prospects.

Since the first workshop was set up in 2018, volunteers from the prisons have given over 50,000 hours repairing nearly 4,000 bikes to be sold at our Sue Ryder shops.

Proceeds from the sales of these repaired bikes recently reached £200,000, equivalent to over 9,500 hours of our expert care, which helps people to live the best lives they possibly can. This is an amazing fundraising milestone and demonstrates the significant contribution our volunteers make to our aim to provide more care for more people.

The hard work of volunteers

“The Volunteering team were delighted to reach this fundraising milestone,” said Stuart Mitchell, our Retail and Support Services Volunteer and Community Plus Manager. “It’s testament to the success of the scheme and to the hard work of the volunteers over the last three years, which has had such a beneficial impact for the charity.

“At Sue Ryder, we want to give everyone a second chance. Volunteering in the workshops gives residents the chance to build their CV and gain real work experience, helping to reduce their risk of reoffending,” he added.

Racks with bicycle wheels hanging, in the HMP bike workshop

A second lease of life

The workshops were set up as part of the Government’s drive to reduce re-offending by encouraging organisations to link with HMP industries through the New Futures Network. In partnership with the Ministry of Justice, bikes are delivered into the HMP workshops in different states of repair. Qualified Band 4 instructors then train and mentor the volunteers to assess the work needed to make the bikes fit for purpose and to carry out repairs.

The refurbished bikes are then sold at Sue Ryder charity shops as part of our SAVED scheme, which focuses on using skill and creativity to refurbish and upcycle items to give them a second lease of life. Any bikes unfit for repair are broken down and used for spares.

Environmental and social responsibility

“It's great to be part of a team focussing on environmental and social responsibility issues together,” said our SAVED Product Manager, Wendy Wickens. “The bikes we sell at Sue Ryder are always popular, and receiving bicycles that we can renovate and upcycle means that we can generate great value-for-money bicycles.”

The workshops have gone from strength to strength over the last few years. In 2019, Sue Ryder and HMP Gartree won ‘The Business Development in a Prison Award’ by The Employers' Forum for Reducing Re-offending (EFFRR), which recognised the success of the bicycle repair workshop in HMP Gartree in helping prisoners to break the cycle of reoffending.

We now have up to 70 bike stockists at our Sue Ryder shops across the UK, and look forward to building on the success of the workshops in the future.

Thank you to our volunteers

Taking place 1-7 June, Volunteers' Week is an opportunity to celebrate the millions of people across the UK who donate their time through volunteering.

At Sue Ryder, our volunteers play a vital part in enabling us to be there when it matters for the people we support. Wherever they are, whatever their role - we are hugely grateful for everything they do.

Volunteer with Sue Ryder

If you would like to volunteer with us, you can find out more about joining our team, frequently asked questions and search for volunteering opportunities near you.