For many people round the world, 2016 didn’t end well, but one Scottish charity and social enterprise suffered local problems of its own: a serious fire and break-in theft.
But if Edinburgh Bike Station had to move out of its premises and cancel a 15-year anniversary party, the aftermath has brought renewed positivity, thanks to an oversubscribed crowd-funding campaign.
The Bike Station was born as an informal bike swap for children in the late 1990s and today has become Scotland’s largest bicycle recycling organisation, with branches in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth dedicated to making cycling accessible for all.
In the early hours of October 17, the fire at its Causewayside base in Edinburgh damaged the shop, workshops, and office space and left a large hole in the roof. Due to the presence of asbestos, the building has to remain closed for quite some time.
Jenny Baker, office administrator for the Edinburgh Bike Station, said: “We are unsure as to the cause of the fire as it is still pending investigation. We have also experienced a break-in and a loss of money from our safe, but we cannot confirm as yet as to whether or not the two incidents were related.
“It will take a while to get back into our premises at 250 Causewayside. We have managed to some extent, though we still have a gaping hole in the roof and a lot to clear out. We are hoping to be back in sometime around April, but we are still waiting for confirmation.
Meanwhile, the social enterprise’s team has had to move to its nearby warehouse and make it ready as a temporary trading space.
Jenny said: “Our staff have been working very hard to make the warehouse into a workable shop and mechanic work space and they have done very well so far. The dedication and can-do attitude that the mechanics have shown is more than exemplary and a testament to their enthusiastic commitment.”
That commitment is shared by the charity’s supporters, who have raised more than £16,000 through the crowd-funding campaign for rebuilding its premises.
Jenny said: “After a lot of messages of support and requests to donate money and/or time to help us get through this difficult period, we decided to try and raise funds through a crowd-funding campaign to keep ourselves and our projects going.
“We were unsure that we would reach our initial target of £10,000 in the two-week time frame and were utterly taken aback once we managed to surpass the target in just three days. All in all, we raised £16,230, with offers of donations still coming in thick and fast since the campaign ended.
“We are so amazed that people are so passionate about our organisation and want to keep the cause going. It has given us a feeling of renewed vigour and the atmosphere in the whole organisation is a determined and positive one. We have great hopes for the future.”
Once the organisation is back up and running at its main base, it will host a re-opening party for staff, volunteers, those who pledged towards its crowd-funder and the local community and projects they work with.
Around 30 staff and volunteers work at the Edinburgh Bike Station, which is currently trying to raise funds for new community education initiatives, such as the Balance Bike Project.
Jenny said: “Our aim with the Balance Bike Project is to give two free balance bikes to as many nurseries as we possible can. We hope to be able to eventually supply every nursery in Edinburgh with balance bikes, after which time we will do our best to raise the funds to reach further afield, with the desire to make the initiative nationwide at some stage in the future.
“We believe that access to balance bikes is important for our little ones for a number of reasons. It gives them exposure to cycling and outdoor activities from an early age, normalising active play and encouraging children to explore the world around them in a novel way. We hope that the joy the balance bikes bring will be the first step in a lifetime of cycling and active transport.”
She added: “If anyone would like to help there are a number of ways to support us. You can donate good bikes and bike parts or spread the word about the Bike Station. You can also donate money to us directly by coming into the pop-up shop at 244 Causewayside and buying your bikes and bike accessories from us, or by simply contacting our office staff by email email@example.com or phone 07928483194.”
For more information about the Bike Station, go here
To watch the crowdfunder video, visit: After the fire – The Bike Station