In 2019 we had over 120 volunteers at six packing days, leading to 1,422 donated bicycles being sent to Namibia in three shipping containers. This year, we are well on our way to breaking this record. Of course, none of this would be possible without our volunteers.
Our selfless volunteers keep the wheels spinning here at Bicycles for Humanity Melbourne (pun intended)! Whether its collecting bicycles, donating them, packing them up or the often overlooked behind the scenes work, one thing is for sure- Bicycles for Humanity Melbourne would not be able to function without our volunteers.
COVID-19 has hit the world with a lot of uncertainty, but one thing has remained the same- the wholehearted dedication of our amazing volunteers. Whilst social distancing restrictions threw some pretty tricky obstacles in our path, we were able to overcome them with the help of some of the brains (and brawn) behind Bicycles for Humanity Melbourne.
With the help of our incredible volunteers from Men’s Bike Shed, we were able to pack 105 bicycles into one of our containers, all whilst maintaining the important 1.5 metres distance.
Neil Harris has also demonstrated that nothing will stand in the way of a volunteer’s commitment to help out. Neil collects old bicycles from his surrounding neighbourhood and then refurbishes them for pickup. In this past month alone, Neil has donated a whopping 45 bicycles to us!
A lot of the time, volunteers have to learn what to do on the job. There’s no strict instruction manual when things veer off track and need a solution. Often, this can be challenging and requires a bit of creativity to get the job done. Gerard, from the Dingley Men’s Shed, is a perfect example of this. Gerard regularly volunteers for Bicycles for Humanity, and has, amongst other valuable contributions, helped fit the roof of our storage space.
Gerard demonstrated great innovation when we received a request from Namibia for a Wheel Truer. To fulfil this request, Gerard impressively taught himself some welding skills and created the Wheel Truer above!
Our volunteers constantly astonish us with the great skill, care and adaptability they apply to their role. They are the pillars of Bicycles for Humanity Melbourne, and we are forever grateful for the work that they do.
In the midst of the COVID-19 panic, and whirlwind of related bad news, container 25 brings a spark of joy to the Bicycles for Humanity Melbourne community.
Container 25, dedicated to the life of founding partner Matt McCullough, in conjunction with Good Cycles, has touched down in Namibia. Lucky, our partner for the new workshop, will play an integral role in facilitating the progression of the workshop.
Eventually, container 25 will be transformed into a solar powered e-hub. It will be supported by 2 e-bicycles which we excitingly purchased through our 2019 raffle, so thank you to all those who purchased tickets. Look what you have helped achieve!
Lucky has shared his plans to make one e-bicycle a mobile bicycle workshop, and the other a school bus style bicycle. We cannot wait to see these e-bicycles in action! Stay tuned, as we plan to document more of Lucky’s workshop project.
BEN Namibia proposes a COVID-19 response that aims to reduce transmission risk through improving awareness and hygiene in low income communities, and stimulates economic activity by promoting local manufacturing of masks by 25 local producers for sale in these communities, and creates 70 new jobs providing delivery services to enable more people to avoid leaving home during the lockdown period. These 95 new jobs will be supported beyond the crisis through our ongoing training and support programme. Bicycle sales will help provide income at our partner shops.
Namibia has been fortunate to date during the COVID-19 crisis, with only 16 reported infections and one suspected death. The government acted decisively in imposing lockdown conditions before the virus could spread. However, concerns remain about the lack of testing and the possibility that the virus could already be more widely active. The lockdown has already brought economic hardship, with an estimated 40% of the population working in the informal economy and many already facing hunger. Government has responded with a subsistence payment scheme, however only 50% of applicants were accepted in the first round. There are also many grassroots initiatives aimed at delivering emergency food packages.
Namibia is ill-equipped for a full-blown coronavirus epidemic. Its health system is under-resourced, and the prevalence of pre-existing illnesses like HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis mean there is a disproportionate number of people in the highest risk group for serious or fatal infection.
BEN Namibia and our partners who run the network of bicycle shops that we support have discussed possible approaches during this crisis that both address the pressing issues and fit within our objectives and the objectives of funding through our partnership programme with Bicycles for Humanity Melbourne, the Bicycle Enterprise Support and Training (BEST) programme, supported by Intrepid Travel. We have also consulted the Prime Minister’s office, Red Cross society, Catholic AIDS Action and NANGOV, the peak NGO coordinating body, and have devised a programme that is relevant to the BEST programme, addresses the crisis and is and implementable. This programme is outlined below.
The challenges we aim to address are:
Lack of revenue faced by the shops in the coming months
Lack of basic hygiene and virus transmission prevention (hand washing, face masks)
Lack of employment opportunities under lockdown
A need to maintain social isolation
A lack of delivery services in rural and peri-urban areas
The approach involves purchasing bicycles from the shops, addressing (1). The shops will be responsible for identifying potential entrepreneurs, who once selected will be provided a bicycle and training in issues surrounding hygiene and coronavirus transmission, as well as orientation in provision of delivery services. They will be given soap, tippy taps and face masks to distribute and demonstrate to households. Using a mask, they will talk to people about the virus, importance of social distancing and basic hygiene. They will also promote their delivery services as a means of enabling more people to stay in quarantine, with the aim of generating income from providing deliveries in their local community, addressing 2, 3, 4 and 5.
Masks will be made by local suppliers, and samples given to people in the local community. The delivery entrepreneurs will advise of the availability of masks from local entrepreneurs, providing contact details and pricing, addressing both 2 and 3.
Entrepreneurs will be provided with bicycles at a subsidy in exchange for hygiene product distribution. They will be required to pay in instalments at the end of the coronavirus quarantine period. The recovered funds will be further invested in enterprise development through the BEST programme in 2021. Delivery entrepreneurs will be monitored and supported through the BEST programme.
Contingency funds have been included in the budget in order to be able to be responsive as the situation unfolds, but spending this is conditional on presenting Bicycles for Humanity Melbourne with proposals beforehand. If not spent during the crisis this would be allocated to the ongoing BEST programme.
“In these unprecedented times, as we all do our part to keep everyone safe, we realise the huge impact stopping bicycle collections will have on our friends in Namibia. We look forward to getting our wheels spinning as soon as possible to continue to support communities. Stay safe and be kind to yourselves and others. “
Andy Gild, Bicycles for Humanity Melbourne CEO & Co-founder
Protecting our community is a top priority. A summary of our measures to ensure safety.
In light of the current advice from the Victorian State Government to avoid non essential social gatherings, and to ensure the safety of our vital volunteer workforce, we have decided the best course of action is to put a hold on all donated bicycle collections and Volunteer bicycle packing days until further notice.
If you are planning a clean out while you have extra time at home, please hold onto your old bicycles. Please stay up to date with our monthly email newsletters – where we will be keeping you informed as to where and when we will be ready to once again accept your generous bicycle donations.
In 2019 a total of 1,595 bicycles were collected by our wonderful volunteers here at Bicycles for Humanity Melbourne. We want to beat this record this year, but we need your help.
Bicycle donations span far and wide across Melbourne and Victoria. So we either collect bicycles which have been dropped off to our wonderful friends at Bicycles Superstore, or we head out to collect the donated bicycles from other various locations.
Now here’s where you come in – We currently have 1 ute and driver for donated bicycle pickups, but we are keen to have another to assist with our donated bicycle collections. We aren’t just looking for another ute or other set of wheels. If you or your friends are willing to help out with collecting bicycles, then please register your interest online via our Register Your Interest to Volunteer contact form or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Let’s hope we can set a new record in 2020 with the number of donated bicycles we collect with your help!
How: Please register yourself as a Volunteer using our new B4H Online Volunteer Registration website so our Team can cater food and drinks to thank you for your efforts and keep you powered throughout the day.
IMPORTANT NOTE For those of you attending the Volunteer Packing Day this coming Sunday 16 Feb 2020, please note that the gate to the premises will not be open as per past packing days (new security arrangements). Ideally, if volunteers arrive at 9.30am, that would greatly assist. If the gate is closed when you arrive, please call me on 0407836709 or Bill on 0450004424, and we will swipe you in.
Thanks to Kwan for putting together a behind the scenes time lapse video of what the packing day entails through the magic of Vimeo:
Funding from the Intrepid Foundation will enable us to intensify BEST Programme activities in 2020.
One of our main aims is to conduct regional training activities. We hope to foster greater cooperation among regional clusters of shops. In particular, we will explore the implementation of a system of collective monitoring and mutual support for financial management, with much the same approach as micro-financing collectives. With the agreement of our partners, we plan to make certain financial data such as payments for the costs of supplying bicycles available to the collective, providing a stimulus for each shop to better manage payments and reporting, with positive incentives as well as consequences for late or non-payment.
We also aim to address complementary business activities. Namibia’s ongoing economic crisis makes surviving as a small social enterprise very challenging. Diversifying can help supplement income when demand for bicycle sales and servicing dips. Our partner shops have had mixed success with diverse activities such as sales of micro-solar lighting/phone charging units, concrete brick making and bakeries. We will be exploring in greater detail why some complementary activities have succeeded at some shops and not others, and designing training and tools around these activities. The regional trainings will serve as platforms for information sharing.
One of our aims going forward is to bring on board a full time coordinator for the BEST programme, whose role would also include fundraising to sustain the programme. Funding this position is seen as essential to expanding the programme and helping our partner shops to thrive. The current funding from Intrepid Foundation makes this position more feasible. We will be planning carefully how to maximise the impact of such a position.
There are a number of complementary projects due for delivery in 2020, such as solar electric bicycles, bicycle ambulances and a solar electric school vehicle, which will all be associated with our partner shops. We will also provide support to our shops in managing these projects. In addition, a number of shops are now participating in a national youth BMX programme, which has been successful in engaging children in cycling. We hope to expand this programme to include more shops in our network.
The 2020 new year has brought with it some very challenging situations. Our beautiful Australian landscape has been scarred by bushfires which continue to burn on across our Eastern shores.
Lives, homes, businesses and wildlife have been lost. Although out of the ashes, the camaraderie and generosity of not only Australians all around the country, but also on a much greater international scale is something to be truly proud of.
When people come together as one, raising eachother up, incredible things can be achieved and hope can, and is restored. So while the impacts of the fires have had devastating effects, our local and international community has again shown we are greater than our most challenging trials.
We at Bicycles for Humanity Melbourne value that charitable spirit and if you are looking to give back to local and international communities as a Volunteer we would love to hear from you.
This February lets focus on mateship and the power of the people. Join us at our first bicycle packing day for 2020 and help us ship another load of bicycles to our friends in Africa. See the details on our next bicycles packing day.
Our Challenge for the next Decade
We’ve set ourselves our own Bicycles for a Humanity Melbourne challenge this year to reach 30,000 bicycle donations by 2030.
With over 10,000 bicycles collected and donated in our first 10 years, we’re already on a roll. Please come join us, volunteer and together we can build on the momentum to reach our ambitious goal.
Thank you to everyone who has been involved with Bicycles for Humanity Melbourne this year! There have been so many of you.
Special shout out to Pete, Phil, Bill, Monika, Michael, John and all the other volunteers for taking time out of their day to go out and pick up bicycles across Melbourne, the volunteers who came out to Dingley at our Bicycles For Humanity Melbourne Packing Days both new and old, everyone involved behind the scenes, from our marketing, events and HR teams. Thank you so much for your help, we really couldn’t do it without you!
This year we saw two members of the Bicycles for Humanity family – Dean and Gary depart for pastures a new and welcomed new members to the Bicycles for Humanity family. A special thank you to Leifke for coming on board and organising our Solar Charged Raffle and Susan for overseeing our volunteer recruitment.
From the Melbourne to Namibia Challenge to the Solar Charged Raffle and the Maud St Collective exhibition, and everyone in between. Thank you for your generous donations throughout 2019, your kindness does not go away unappreciated!
FINALLY, a BIG thank you to Andy, MJ, Gary, Dean, Amanda, Uri, Marty, Jules, Ira, Pete and Kevin for all the work you have done and the work you continue to do for Bicycles for Humanity Melbourne.
We wish all our supporters, volunteers and everyone else involved with Bicycles for Humanity Melbourne a great festive season and see you all in 2020!
Bicycles for Humanity Melbourne was founded by Matt McCullough and Andy Gild in 2008 as the first Australian Bicycles for Humanity (B4H) chapter. We are completely volunteer run and governed by a committee of 8 members.
We are very proud to be part of this global grass-roots movement and have seen first hand how effective the model of Bicycle Empowerment Centres can be in the developing world.
Bicycles for Humanity Melbourne is an incorporated association and registered charity with ACNC and registered for fund raising within Victoria, Australia.