A YOUTH charity in Bemerton Heath has celebrated the launch of its first social enterprise project.

The Bemerton Heath Bike Hub has been developed over the last two years by Rise:61 after seeing how popular cycling was amongst young people in the community and how keen they were to learn basic maintenance skills.

More than 60 people gathered at St Michael’s Community Centre on Saturday, September 30 for the launch party.

Robin Imeson, of Rise:61, said: "We're so thrilled that the bike hub is up and running and want to say a massive thank you to all the funders and to all the young people who've been helping us fix bikes over the past year and a half.

"We believe in young people and their potential to be catalysts for positive change in this community and the bike hub is a great example of that. We're looking forward to helping more young people discover and develop their skills and talent through it and seeing older people from the community interacting and mentoring them through a shared passion for bikes."

The pilot project was launched in 2015 and the charity says youngster Kieran White really thrived, volunteering to help build the hub and sell bikes at events to help raise funds. The charity says his progress and keen engagement showed what a difference a project like this could make to young people’s lives.

The goal of the hub is to provide vocational skills and after school activities for young people whilst fixing donated bikes to sell, helping to provide affordable access to this low cost means of transport and reducing the number of bikes being thrown away.

Anyone wishing to support the bike hub or looking for a second hand bike contact bike hub manager Simon Bower at simon@rise61.org or visit the site at St Michael’s Community Centre.