Evolution Cycle Co

Posted by editor 26/11/2013 0 Comment 4283 views


Figen Gunes finds stolen bikes donated by  Camden police to a social enterprise repaired by local unemployed youngsters or ex-offenders with the aim of creating jobs. //

“Evolution cycle is a key point of my life as now I have a legitimate job that pays for my living. It is also keeping me out of trouble and leading me to a more positive life style. It was hard for me to look for a job with my previous convictions but now with Evolution Cycles wouldn’t reject me. I have been convicted violent disorder, assault PC, wreckless driving and funnily enough convicted for bike crime,” says Mohammed Jay Rashid after finding a job with this new social enterprise.  

Evolution Cycle Co, managed by five directors aged 16 to 19, was formed after the founders struggled to find jobs and spotted the gap in the market to up-cycle stolen bicycles.

King’s Cross’s Global Generation centre offered them a  shed free of charge located at their Skip Garden to store the bikes for maintenance work.

One of the founders is Parvaz Ali, 19, who started bike repair at the tender age of 15 in his neighbourhood in Camden. Having completed his GCSEs, he had done an apprenticeship but after that he couldn’t find a job for 18 months so came up with this idea.

The social enterprise runs its operations from the small shed in King’s Cross but has applied to  Camden Council for a depot and a retail space. So far the bikes have been sold on the Gumtree website but, ‘this is not sustainable for any business,” says the young director Ali. “Hopefully we will be trading properly by early next year after our recruits complete the course and will start working in the retail store we will be potentially given,” he adds.

They receive around 200-300 bikes from Camden Police and for any bike sold online 15 per cent of the profit goes back to the police. The remaining profit is used to fund Cytech qualification for promising youngsters joining their team.

“The fact that Evolution Cycles is aiming to engage young people involved or impacted by gangs and serious youth violence is the main catalyst for our endorsement,” says Chief Inspector Penny Mills, of Camden police. “(This is) a viable business model that contributes profits to the Metropolitan Police over the long term and which will help those involved develop enterprise-based skills and earn income through legitimate activities – offering a meaningful alternative to making money from ‘running drugs’, which we know to be a significant problem. I’ve not seen an innovative model like this before, particularly with young people at its core and if the guys involved continue to work hard I really believe this partnership could scale and be game-changing.”

Being a keen cyclist,  co-founder Ali promotes the idea of cycling everywhere in London: “I don’t have an Oyster Card. Everyone should have a bike. Setting up a cycle hire scheme in universities is one of our future projects. In community houses around Camden and King’s Cross we work with youth and elderly groups to encourage cycling. Also, we will soon be working with Bromley Housing Association to teach youngsters how to repair bikes.

“It is good to give opportunity to ex-offenders as they want to be employed but due to their criminal background they can’t find  jobs. They are good people it’s just they go with the wrong crowd and influence each other,” Ali says.

Emran Miah,19,  is one of the volunteers at  Evolution. Originally from Bangladesh, he completed a Level 2 course in City & Islington College in IT but struggled to find work due to a lack of experience, he says. In the New Year he will be doing Cyctech training in London and become a full-time employee of  Evolution Cycle Co once he completes the course. Never interested in going to a university, Miah will be employed for the first time and earn a London living wage.




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