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There With You: Cyclists delivering food and medicine during coronavirus crisis

PUBLISHED: 07:00 03 April 2020

Co-founder and chief executive of Bikeworks, Jim Blakemore. Picture: Isabel Infantes

Co-founder and chief executive of Bikeworks, Jim Blakemore. Picture: Isabel Infantes

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Cyclists are aiming to ensure vital food, medicine and other supplies are delivered to those most in need during the coronavirus crisis.

Bikeworks, a social enterprise based in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, has rapidly repurposed itself to provide support to vulnerable and isolated people across London.

“Normally our work consists of cycle training and all-ability biking clubs,” Bikeworks co-founder and chief executive Jim Blakemore explained. “Obviously that’s all dried up at the moment.

“The people that are delivering products are our freelance instructors, who were quite worried before the announcement that the government would be supporting them until everything gets back to normal.

“The people we are helping are some of the people we normally work with who are not able to get out.”

He explained that the cycle delivery service allowed the instructors to work in a different role during the pandemic as well as being involved in supporting the communities Bikeworks usually works with.

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The scheme is in operation across four boroughs near the Olympic Park base - Newham, Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Islington - as well as three in the west of the capital.

“The good thing about cyclists is they can get anywhere,” Jim said. “We’re trying to keep our east London team in the east, having the benefit of local knowledge.

“At the moment we have 10 people that are riding. We aim to scale that up to 33 in the next four to six weeks.”

He explained that Bikeworks is working with a range of partners, including pharmacies, the NHS, community groups and councils, to manage the deliveries.

“We’re working with an over 50s group based in a church in Canning Town,” Jim said. “They have become a big foodbank in a church very quickly.

“We’re going to be delivering food for them from next week, helping people of all ages.”

Bikeworks has been operating for 14 years, beginning life near Victoria Park. It was then based in Bethnal Green before relocating to the Lee Valley VeloPark in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in 2018.

For more information about Bikeworks and the cycle delivery service, visit bikeworks.org.uk


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