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PCC donates bikes to help break the cycle of crime

Vulnerable people in Norwich working to turn their lives around by getting back into employment have been given a pedal-powered boost by Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).

PCC Lorne Green has donated seven unclaimed bikes recovered by Norfolk Police to social enterprise Norwich LEAP to support its clients in accessing training and work opportunities.

Over the last 18 months, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, together with the Department of Work and Pensions, has been working with local organisations and businesses to offer positive training and employment opportunities to people with an offending past or those who are at risk of offending.

LEAPTweetPostThe aims of that initiative, known as Gateway to Employment, are to break down barriers to employment, support rehabilitation pathways, reduce vulnerability and prevent crime.

The PCC arranged the bike donation through Norfolk Police after a meeting with partner agencies identified transport as a barrier for those wanting to take up work experience and employment offers made under the Gateway to Employment scheme.

“Having the means to gain and sustain training and employment can have a significant impact on a person’s life direction”, said the PCC, “including whether that person will commit crime.

“At a meeting with Gateway to Employment partners recently, we were talking about the successes we’ve had so far. With over 70 Norfolk organisations on board, there are lots of opportunities on offer but lack of transport is a barrier for those wanting to take them up.

“There was a certain amount of frustration that, with such support from our business community, and true enthusiasm and commitment from those we’re working to help, it was actually getting to training or work that was proving a real stumbling block.

“That’s when I approached the Constabulary to see if, by donating some bikes, we could provide a solution. I’m delighted to say our police force was very supportive. Norwich LEAP then got in touch to take us up on our offer.”

Assistant Chief Constable Paul Sanford of Norfolk Police said: “We are pleased to be supporting the PCC by providing unclaimed bicycles to this initiative.

“Norfolk Constabulary recognises the important role employment plays in reducing re-offending and something as simple as a donated bicycle comes at a low cost but has high benefits.

“We hope to continue to work with the PCC on similar future initiatives.”

LEAP works closely with vulnerable people in our communities to build skills and confidence, help them find accommodation and get back into education and employment. They run their own catering training academy, the launch of which the PCC office helped fund, as well as more recently opening a trading stall on Norwich market.

The PCC added: “What LEAP does not only makes a difference to their clients’ lives, but it also contributes to keeping our county safe by supporting positive life choices. It’s my pleasure to be able to support its work in this way.”

Georgina Finn at Norwich LEAP said that, for some clients, the donated bikes had been ‘life-changing.’

“Many of our clients have regular appointments, are working towards employment and attending regular training courses. The bikes have made such a difference for them being able to easily get around.

“For many people bikes are often just stored in a shed or perhaps used on sunny days; for our clients these bikes have opened so many new options and given them the independence they needed.”

The feedback from one of the bike recipients was: “It’s been an enormous help in getting to my various voluntary jobs around Norwich and I have saved a significant amount of money that would have been spent on bus fares.

“Cycling is now becoming a bit of a hobby so hopefully my fitness will improve too, although this is very much a work in progress!”