Restoring bikes equips prisoners with trade skills

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

Restoring bikes for children in state care is giving 30 Paremoremo prisoners an opportunity to learn new skills and a better chance to enter a trade on their release. The refurbished bikes will be donated to Oranga Tamariki to encourage kids to exercise outdoors. 

The second-hand bikes have been restored by the prisoners to bring joy to 50 children.

One prisoner said gifting the bikes is a huge deal.

“I feel my heart goes into it - our heart goes into it. It's just a big, big deal for us, giving back especially to the children.”

The recycled bicycles once destined for the dump were donated by the local community recycling network.

“I've learned skills how to reassemble and take the bikes apart. I've also gained a forklift licence as well which is also good for myself to take out into the community,” said another prisoner.

Over 400 bikes have been restored over the last two years, then donated to children of Oranga Tamariki, Women's Refuge, Prison Fellowship and the Bike Kitchen.

“The lads that go through it get a lot out of it,” said Auckland Prison Director, Andy Langley.

“All the sort of skills they get out of it contributes to them being able to manage themselves when they're out in the community.”

The prisoners learn and gain NZ Certificate Qualifications in hand and power tools, and forkhoist drivers licence for employment opportunities on release.

“We've been running a pilot programme in the community and nationally it's placed 800 community-based prisoners or prisoners released from prison, in employment," said David Grear, Manager of Industries at the prison.

“From this site, we've had 14 men who've been released from parole who've gone on to paid full-time employment. A couple of men from here have gone into manufacturing, warehousing, that sort of area.”

“I've got a forkhoist licence, so I can, when I get out of here, I've got somewhere to go, a piece of document, help me get a job,” said one prisoner.

AMI insurers have also jumped on board, donating 50 bright yellow helmets as part of their "Encouraging Cycling" project.