Chester Used Furniture Enterprise (CUFE) was launched to fill the gap left when Blacon Furniture Project had to cease trading at the end of 2015. Based in the former Library building on Western Avenue Blacon, the CUFE shop is now selling reconditioned bikes as well as second hand furniture.
A team of volunteers have been successfully reconditioning donated bikes, but, due to demand, are now looking for more help. The aims of the project are:
- Provide good quality, affordable bicycles to local families.
- Reduce the number of bicycles needlessly sent to landfill (or lying unused and unloved in sheds and garages)
- Actively encourage cycling in the local community, with support from other partners and interest groups
- Actively encourage and promote volunteering, offer training opportunities, work experience and confidence building opportunities
- Reinvest any surplus generated back into the local Blacon projects that work to alleviate poverty
Since the project started, a team of four local volunteers have spent time each week in the well-equipped workshop reconditioning the bikes that have been donated so far.
“We have been so pleased with the demand shown so far for our recycled bikes” say CUFE manager Pam Bleasdale. “Every bike we have reconditioned has been sold within a week of being in our shop. The problem now is that we need more bikes and more volunteers to help the business grow!”
“We have a great time together each Wednesday morning” says Arnold, one of the regular volunteers. “I am not a bike mechanic, but I have ridden a bike all of my life and it’s my only means of transport, so I can do most things to keep it going. I am an active member of the Chester Cycling Campaign (CCC) which works hard to promote cycling in the local area and I am really excited about this project. If I get stuck with something I cannot manage to repair I usually get help from one of my CCC colleagues John or Ken , or from our fourth volunteer Adrian.”
The project aims to fix 1-4 bikes per week, dependant on the condition of donated bikes and volunteer’s time. Once this base load has been established, the project intends to recruit a part-time experienced bike mechanic as the project manager to help the business develop and grow.
“We have learned a lot from Christian Concern, a furniture reuse organisation in Crewe, who run a similar Bike Recycling project” says Naomi Graham, who is employed by the Cheshire Furniture Reuse Forum. “The team in Crewe has been going for 5 years now and their business has gone from strength to strength, so we know that the business model can work. I have started contacting major local employees to ask them to advertise our need for bikes and volunteers within their organisation, and we hope this may also attract some financial support as well.”
With support of local partners and interest groups the team in Blacon also plan to initiate other activities in the local area to promote cycling as a low cost and healthy means of transport for work and recreation.
If anyone reading this article feels that they can help support the project in any way, but in particular with the offer of a bike or their time, please contact Pam or Neil by emailing:
Location: Old Blacon Library, Western Avenue, Chester, CH1 5QY
For more information about the project and about donating a bike, click the link below.