A social enterprise in Brisbane has set the wheels in motion for a new venture to recycle bicycles, sell them through Salvos Stores and provide employment through a bike mechanics workshop.
Salvos Recycle Bikes (SRB), a partnership between Red Hill Salvos Stores and The Salvation Army Brisbane Streetlevel Mission, will operate from two donated shipping containers located at the Salvos Stores site. Area manager Stuart Estreich says it’s a win-win collaboration.
“We get up to 90 bikes donated to Salvos Stores each month. They range from toddlers’ kick bikes to adult road bikes, from cheap department store bikes to carbon fibre racing bikes worth thousands of dollars,” Stuart says.
“But many of them are beyond repair and have to be recycled and sold as spare parts. We’ve never been able to refurbish bikes because we’ve never had the people with the skills to do so.”
That will change, thanks to Andy Steele (pictured), a long-time volunteer at Brisbane Street-level Mission. He saw great potential in a bike-recycling work-
shop and started to actively pursue the idea last year.
The goal is to have trained volunteers (and eventually paid staff) give bicycles donated through Salvos Stores a ‘health check’, servicing them and doing any repair work needed to make them roadworthy.
Salvos Recycle Bikes will also offer a Certificate III in Bicycle Workshop Operations, with Andy expecting students to come from Salvo programs such as graduates from Moonyah (Brisbane Recovery Services, an alcohol and other drug treatment service), as well as local schools and the general community.
“We felt it would empower people in a range of different ways, and give them a hand-up, rather than a handout,” Andy says. “It would also enable those involved to ‘do life’ with each other — something we Salvos just love to do! — and encourage people to move forward with their lives.”
Salvation Army funding, in addition to a start-up grant from Brisbane City Council and local donations, has helped to establish SRB. As a social enterprise, it is guided by a steering committee made up of cyclists who were part of last year’s Salvation Army Ride for Homelessness from Brisbane to Sydney, which raised $130,000 for those experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness.
Andy says Salvos Recycle Bikes is almost ready to start operating.
“We are setting up a full bike workshop and will be able to build or maintain bikes for private clients, with profits made going back into the enterprise,” he says.
“Queensland Rail, 99 Bikes at Indooroopilly and other companies and individuals have given us a number of second-hand bikes and spare parts so we’ve been able to fix and rebuild a number of bikes already.
“We’ve given some of them to our Streetlevel community to provide them with transport they wouldn’t otherwise have. We just insist they have a bike lock and helmet.”
Stuart says Salvos Stores staff and volunteers are excited to be a part of such an innovative enterprise that will deliver so many opportunities and benefits for their community.
“We’ll supply bikes and sell the refurbished ones on site, as well as providing employment and training for those involved in the program,” he says.
‘Our staff and volunteers speak of our partnership with Brisbane Streetlevel with great pride. Not only are we providing additional services to our customers and keeping more bikes out of landfill, we are truly a part of The Salvation Army, doing inspirational work in our community.”