Bespoke Biking is a social enterprise, established by Heather Evans in 2012 to provide cycle training and social rides for children, women and the wider community. Heather developed a place for cyclists to meet, get their bikes fixed and learn maintenance skills.
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We have been gradually building up our activities over the past six years, responding to demand with more staff, more opening hours and more activities. In the process we have accumulated a bank of volunteers, mechanics, helpers and potential staff, so we know that there is a demand for our services and that there are people who want to be involved and would benefit from being involved.
The first Handlebar Café is being built by Spud, a local charity that works with young people to develop design skills. This cafe will be built on the edge of Winchester with access to a network of national cycle paths. The second Cafe will be run from an existing building in the centre of Winchester.
Bespoke Biking will run both cafés. With the grant we will purchase appliances for the cafés kitchens, racking and shelving for the shop, contribute to recruitment and training costs and develop a programme for the first season including marketing, social media and launch events to engage the community.
We will employ paid staff, contract staff and recruit volunteers to help with the café, bike workshop and other activities based at the site. This will create opportunities for people to learn new skills in catering, customer service, cycle mechanics, landscaping and gardening, organizing events, working with our target community groups. By involving our staff and volunteers in the management of the café we will seek to enhance their understanding of the financial management of a small business.
Winchester has a reputation for being wealthy, yet like much of Britain it is full of contrasting groups existing side by side, with three defined areas of higher deprivation. We target our activities toward these areas. Cycling is a great social activity and a way to empower those who do not have access to a car. We offer programmes of free cycle training, community bike rides and affordable bikes.
The café will be able to offer individuals opportunity for barista and food-handling training and learning customer service skills. We anticipate having a team of volunteer assistants working alongside a small employed team. We will involve them in understanding the finances and functions of the business so that they can develop skills and knowledge they could apply to their own enterprises.
We have analysed footfall and cycle traffic (using county council data) at both the café sites so we are confident that the market is there for a viable business that will support employment and volunteering opportunities for the long term.
Supporting us will provide a lot of employment opportunities for local people (17 to start with and then growing), it will encourage healthy living and have a positive impact on the environment. These cafes will offer us financial sustainability so that we can offer local people employment opportunities for years to come.