Kind-hearted contractors and council staff searched their garages and sheds to help replace bicycles stolen from a charity which helps homeless people.
Happy Days Cycles, Sowerby Bridge, had around 20 bikes stolen when storage space was burgled in the summer.
A news story about the theft from the charity, a social enterprise business which repairs and sells donated bikes to raise money for homeless people, training or employing some of them and helping them get their lives back on track, was seen by Alistair Clarke of Blacc Ltd, the company managing contractors working on Calderdale Council’s Northgate House project in Halifax, and he resolved to do something about it.
“I thought it would be such a good thing to replace what they had lost,” he said.
“I had a few bikes in my garage and thought others would have the same.”
He spoke to the contracting teams, notices were put up around the site and council staff also decided to help.
Calderdale Council Programme Manager Janet Whitlow said Happy Days’ work is well known to staff – it is one of Mayor of Calderdale Coun Dot Foster’s Mayoral charities during her year in office, and they wanted to add their support to the contractors’ idea.
“It’s fantastic! Our lovely contractors came up with the idea and we sent an email round the council,” she said.
The result, once garages and sheds had been scoured for unwanted bikes of all shapes and sizes, was amazing, from both the contractors’ and council staff’s response and other members of the community, said David Fawcett, founder of Happy Days.
“It is following a break-in when we had 20 bikes stolen and the public’s support has been unbelievable, we have been given around double that,” he said.
The contractors’ and council staff’s donations meant the charity could do more work and showed some big hearts.
“If you think about it they didn’t have to do this but they have chosen to care for the community around them,” said Mr Fawcett.
Mr Clarke said: “They are going to a good home – and it’s made a bit more space in my garage.”
Mayor Coun Foster said it was fantastic to see people come together and donate to charity.
“It’s a great example of our community’s incredible kindness – one of the key qualities that makes Calderdale so distinctive.
“I was saddened by the theft of bikes from Happy Days – one of my Mayoral charities.
“I’m a real advocate of cycling as a way to keep active and connect with others, so I’m delighted that the charity now has a new stock of bikes to sell to help local homeless people.”
Mr Fawcett said the charity recycled bikes people no longer wanted, repairing, reconditioning and repainting them, then retailing them from their Wharf Street shop.
Proceeds go to the charity, which is currently housing 24 homeless people in the Halifax and Huddersfield areas.
“We provide extensive support for them with with mentors and activities, helping people come away from homelessness and rebuilding their lives,” he said.
Mr Fawcett, who founded the charity in 2015, said the aim is to obtain them volunteering work and then into work. Happy Days has also set up a social enterprise roofing company, winner of the Halifax Courier Business Awards “Business In The Community” category last December.
Happy Days’ work gives practical help and is rewarding, he said.
“Only last week we got a guy off the streets in Huddersfield who has been homeless for 20 years. It’s been a long journey to help support him,” said Mr Fawcett.
He decided to start the charity after helping found the Ebenezer Food Bank and having run a shelter for homeless people for ten years.
Happy Days Cycles – and cafe – also helps the community in other ways, he explained, providing some free bikes for people looking for work and to poorer families who might otherwise struggle to get a gift for a child.
The council partners Happy Days very well in its work, said Mr Fawcett, with the Mayor also putting it into the spotlight this year, when she chose it and Calderdale Music Trust as her Mayoral charities.
If you have a bike doing nothing in the garage and want to donate it, Mr Fawcett said Happy Days Cycles would like to hear from you – the charity can be contacted by calling 01422 303458. More information is also available via its website https://happydayscycles.org