Punchline Business and Community Champion: Help bike project provide a lifeline for keyworkers
By Andrew Merrell | 27th March 2020
What started as a simple act to try to help a few key workers who are risking so much to keep us all safe though the pandemic has exposed a world of need - and human kindness.
When the Gloucester Bike Project - which closed to all but key workers on Monday (March 23) - Tweeted it would give away bicycles to key workers it could never have imagined what it started.
If you think those battling to care for our most sick and vulnerable, to keep our shelves stocked, transport services running, people fed are already having it tough, few of us would have considered they might be having trouble even getting to the front line itself.
Demand for bicycles has immediately outstripped supply and the business is now launching an appeal to enable it to deliver even more bikes to the army of silent heroes who also want to remain healthy during the crisis.
Which is why Punchline has singled it out as one of what it is calling its Business and Community Champions, a roll call of honour being sponsored by the county's local enterprise partnership GFirst LEP.
Maureen Parker, who runs the Commercial Road-based cycle centre, said the response to the scheme had been incredible and unearthed some moving stories: "I have had hundreds of requests from key workers who need a bike and requests coming in every minute. There have been 45,000 Facebook views in 12 hours, 1,000 shares. My inbox has blown up.
"The requests we are getting are so varied, from people who have to be at work stocking shelves at 2am and then has to walk home after their 10 hour shift because they no longer have a lift, a cook at a care home who has to use public transport even though he has a lung condition, respiratory nurses, oncology nurses, people who can't afford to get their car back on the road who were using public transport but are too scared to so have to walk, school staff supporting vulnerable kids at school, a care workers wife has asked for a bike for he husband who can't stay at home as two of the children are classed as vulnerable and so who has to walk two miles to the river so they can shout I love you daddy across the river bank...... so many heart wrenching stories.
"I can't tell you how much we want to say 'yes' to everyone who needs a bike to feel safe and stay well in this."
We have decided that we would like to donate all our refurbished bikes to key workers who need a bike to get to and from work and who perhaps would struggle financially right now to afford a bike. More details to follow pic.twitter.com/I7ll4HYdSY— GlosBikeProject (@GlosBikeProject) March 26, 2020
Explaining how it all came about she said: "Like everyone else we are quite worried about social contact and as bike shops are exempt from mandatory closure we were having people come in and it freaked us all out a bit if I'm honest and my colleague matt and I started talking about how it must feel for frontline workers, NHS, supermarket staff, delivery drivers etc. who have to see hundreds of people every day.
"We thought 'wow, what an amazing thing it is these people are doing to keep us safe and to keep us fed' and we wondered what we could do to show our gratitude.
"And what we have is bikes. So rather than let them sit here until the world goes back to normal we thought why don't we give them away for free to those people who are doing so much for everyone else.
"Public transport must be a scary choice to have to make for people right now but some won't have any choice, so we thought, maybe the gift of a bike can just be a small help."
We are finalising the process for key workers to apply for a free bike. For now, please email email@example.com to let us know if you need a bike. See you all at 8:00 p.m. tonight for a #ClapForCarers #LoveYourNHS #InItTogether #StayHomeSaveLives— GlosBikeProject (@GlosBikeProject) March 26, 2020
If anyone would like to support by sponsoring a bike telephone Maureen Parker on 01452 690 979 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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