1st Step Café was founded in 2015, the result of there being a severe lack of support for individuals situated in the surrounding areas suffering from addiction-based difficulties, such as alcoholism or drug abuse.
1st Step Café was initially formed with the primary mission of providing a warming abode for beneficiaries who could meet in an open and friendly environment.
To date, hundreds have been welcomed through the doors of the local Linlithgow church hall to share their experiences, guiding them on their road to recovery.
A little later saw the formation of 1st Step Bikes, a social enterprise involving the refurbishment and sale of bicycles by those struggling with addiction issues.
Although the 1st Step café is integral for those in the recovery community, it is through 1st Step Bikes where this social project is truly innovative. The structure of the scheme is as follows:
- Bicycles are donated from the broader community and those recovering from addiction spend one day a week working on the bikes
- 6 weeks are spent working to refurbish those bicycles through the assistance of two mechanics
- Participants gain insightful knowledge and lifelong skills
- The final stage concludes with offering the beneficiary the option of keeping the bicycle for themselves or selling it
The backing of the project comes from a variety of sources. These include funding from the local council, The National Lottery, voluntary action fund, and perhaps most importantly through the sales of bicycles that have been restored.
1st Step Bikes also has a unique partnership with Police Scotland, who provided an area which has since has been used as a work-space free of charge.
The bike scheme now has its own college qualification at City and Guilds Level 3 (equivalent to HNC) at West Lothian College and two mechanics who were taken on as volunteers at the start of the scheme are now fully employed and are aiming to achieve accreditation for their college course.
In 2017, 1st Step Bikes won the Community Group of the Year award from Cycle UK, giving the scheme national publicity and recognition for the incredible effort that has been put in by all concerned to ensure its success.
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