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Cheshire health trust to use bike revamps to help service users

People accessing mental health services will have the chance to refurbish and recycle a second hand bike

Graham Weaver, Dr Lisa Hulmes, Karl Johnson, Gary Hulmes and PCSO Paul Downey at The Bren Project

A health trust has joined up with organisations to provide service users with the chance to gain work experience refurbishing recycled bikes.

Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CWP) joined together with The Bren Project, Cheshire West and Chester Council and Cheshire Constabulary to give people accessing mental health services the opportunity to refurbish and recycle a second hand bike, as part of a course to develop practical skills.

The bikes have been donated by Cheshire West and Chester Council and Chester Constabulary, and the first course will begin at the end of July, with five people already signed up to the course.

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The course is run by The Bren Project’s Bren Bikes programme, a social enterprise based in Chester that offers local adults with learning disabilities and autism the experience of working on unwanted bikes, recycling and refurbishing them and offering them for sale.

As part of a new initiative with CWP, Bren Bikes will be offering the course to adults suffering from a variety of mental health conditions.

CWP psychologist Dr Lisa Hulmes approached The Bren Project after the psychology department was left a large sum of money in a patient’s will.

She said: “We wanted to use the money to provide creative support to staff and clients, and we wanted something that the trust wouldn’t normally provide. We were aware of other local projects but knew that there was a niche for something similar but for a different audience.

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She added: “When I came across Bren Bikes and the work they were doing, I knew it would be a perfect way to honour the money that was left to the psychology department and would provide a fun and creative way for our service users to gain valuable skills. I’m excited to see this amazing example of joint partnership take off.”

Graham Weaver, charity manager for the Bren Project, said: “We’ve been running our charity, The Bren Project, in Chester for almost a decade and launched Bren Bikes last summer. Our aim is to support adults with learning disabilities and autism to pursue their aspirations in the world of work.

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“When beneficiaries have finished a placement at Bren Bikes, they go for an eight week placement with an external organisation. All beneficiaries are provided with a one-to-one job coach who will support them throughout the placement. We offer supported employment opportunities, in a wide range of working environments.

“Our trained job coaches are carefully matched to the needs of each individual beneficiary. Their aim is to build supportive relationships that make for a comfortable and successful work placement.

“We are delighted to be working with the CWP on this project, to offer our model of training and development to their service-users.”

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