About Us

         

Bespoke Be Heard focuses on teaching young people with Special Educational Needs, to service, repair and refurbish second hand bikes, profits from the resale of these bikes are reinvested to provide additional opportunities for young people with SEN. Students gain an AQA Unit Award in Cycle Mechanics as part of their experience. The scheme also offers students from schools in and out of our borough to do a qualification in cycle mechanics up to Level 2 (A-C grade GCSE equivalent).

History

The idea for the scheme was conceived when a young man with learning difficulties presented characteristics indicative of a future facing exclusion from school, his family and hence society. He was heading towards becoming NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training). This scheme was designed for students like this young man to be able to leave school with a bike maintenance Award/Certificate and think positively toward the future.

At the age of 16, young people with LDD (Learning Difficulties of Disabilities) are twice as likely to be NEET (not in education, employment or training) as young people without LDD (Stephen Evans for SMF and DRC Disability, Skills and Work; Raising our ambitions 2007)

Shortly it became clear that all our students would benefit from cycle mechanics with the hands-on, and transferable skills it offers, and therefore we began offering it to all our students, both boys and girls, aged Yr. 9-Yr. 11.

As we got the first cohort through the Unit Award and we had achieved getting the students skilled at regularly maintaining our fleet of school bicycles, staff started to ask if we could service their bicycles and ask whether they could buy bicycles from us. Students who had completed the Introduction to Cycle Maintenance Award then started to use their skills servicing and repairing staff bikes, and restoring second hand bicycles. Profits going back into the scheme.

We decided to start advertising that we collect donated bikes and bikes literally started to roll in. Kingston Market gave us a spot to sell our second hand bikes, and offer our services. Therefore as well as our staff being interested in what we had to offer, the local community became more aware of our scheme and its benefits.  Richmond Council started to regularly give us abandoned bikes and we were inundated with them and struggling with storage to keep them. We started to sell these donated and then renovated bikes through Gumtree and Ebay to broaden our sales from the local community to further afield.

It became clear that the local community was really interested in what we had to offer, and we decided to get a steering group together and go through the process of creating a business plan to turn our scheme from Clarendon Cycle Scheme into a full time social enterprise- Bespoke Be Heard. A big motivation to go through this process when we did was down Richmond’s Den offer (*see “Success” below)

Having won the Richmond’s Den we wanted to further broaden our horizons to all abilities and started offering the City and Guilds courses to mainstream schools- with the intention to give students a stepping-stone through cycle mechanics onto a career avenue into Transport industry and engineering. Over the last 5 years we have received more and more interest from schools who see the value of students gaining vocational qualifications with City and Guilds. The following are some of the schools who have been involved in the scheme to date: Richard Challoner, Christ’s School, Richmond Park Academy, Hampton Academy, Twickenham Academy, Gateway, Malden Oaks, Orleans Park, Kingsley Academy and Cambridge School.

Teachers and professionals have started to see more and more the benefits of students gaining the cycle mechanics qualifications because the qualifications either; directs students into a career with bikes; and/or provides the steps into engineering; and at the same time enriches students’ educational experience alongside their regular subjects. Therefore we now have a cohort of schools consistently sending us students on a termly basis.

We now also offer our students further courses to accompany their Introduction to Cycle Maintenance: Renovating a Bicycle and Trail Riding, which has given students the chance to understand how the social enterprise works when picking, renovating and selling second hand bicycles. As well as getting the students use to riding their bikes on trails and the road, all whilst gaining awards that will go towards their record of achievement.

Update 09.07.18 We have just moved to a brand new school with a brand new workshop situated in Twickenham, across the road from Twickenham Stadium. Our aim, with the bigger workshop we now have, is to offer more places on our City and Guilds qualifications.

Success

*The potential and success of ‘Bespoke Be Heard’ was recognized when we won Richmond’s Den 2013. To gain this award, ‘Bespoke Be Heard’ was one of eight businesses shortlisted from 58 applicants. A fine tuned and professional presentation resulted in ‘Bespoke Be Heard’ being invited to the final 3 of Richmond’s Den. At the final, ‘Bespoke Be Heard’ was awarded the winner’s cheque of £10,000 and professional support from Richmond Business Society after an evening of intense interrogation by a high profile panel of Dragons.

After winning Richmonds Den, Cllr Pamela Fleming, Cabinet Member for Community, Business and Culture, congratulated ‘Bespoke Be Heard’ by saying:

Their proposal for cycle mechanic training for young people with SEN came through as innovative, achievable and destined to enhance the local community.

Richmond Business Awards commended Bespoke Be Heard:

‘A very innovative community enterprise idea that gives young people skills in repairing and refurbishing cycles as well as cycling skills. BeSpoke Be Heard demonstrated good relationships with local businesses and their sustainability through refurbishing and selling bikes. The judges saw clear evidence of the impact of this project, with pupils gaining employment with local cycle shops as a result of their experience with the project.’

On the news!!

BBC news did a special feature on Bespoke Be Heard…

 

Next…

2. Why Bikes?

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