Weymouth mental health charity 3R Cycles jobs plan

Volunteers working at 3R Cycles, Weymouth
Image caption The charity meets three times a week at a workshop on Granby Industrial Estate in Weymouth

A mental health worker from Dorset has set up a specialist bicycle charity to help sufferers of mental illness get back into employment.

Andrew Court, 45, from Weymouth, who suffered from depression in 1990, has been awarded £8,500 to start 3R Cycles.

The charity aims to provide work experience for those with mental health illnesses by providing them with the means to repair and recondition bikes.

The service is part of the national charity Rethink Mental Illness.

'Dark thoughts'

Mr Court, Service Lead for Weymouth and Portland Community Service, said: "I had a slight blip with depression. I used to be a welder and I hurt my back.

"There was no joy or feelings of going forward - no future. It was just black and filled with dark thoughts.

"I felt totally unmotivated to do anything, even just a sink filled with washing up would just sit there all day.

"It was quite miserable, and that's the light side of mental health."

The organisation has received three grants: £4,000 from Synergy Housing Community Fund; £2,500 from Dorset County Council; and £2,000 from Weymouth and Portland Borough Council.

It has also received an undisclosed long-term donation from the commercial property provider, DJ Property, which will be used to pay part of the monthly rent for the workshop on Granby Industrial Estate.

The rest of the money is being used to purchase professional tools, benches and storage systems for the workshop.

Mr Court, who has worked in the mental health industry for 12 years, said: "It's very difficult for people with a mental illness to get employment and most end up hiding their diagnosis.

"Generally the public perception of mental health is negative, because people don't understand it.

"3R Cycles aims to raise self esteem and confidence.

"It also provides crucial work experience which is transferable to the local job market."

The cycles are donated by Dorset Police and members of the local community.

The initiative also renovates bikes donated by members of the public.

The brake cables on every bike are replaced. The brake pads, chain, tyres and gears are also serviced to ensure they are safe and reliable.

They are then screen-checked by the charity and if they pass they are sold from the workshop for between £20 and £100.

The bike sales fund the charity, which meets three times a week.

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