Christmas: Recycling bicycles for families in need

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Mike Jones with two members of the Trevallis housing teamImage source, Sadye Baker
Image caption,
Mike Jones (left) has recycled and distributed more than 50 bikes

Mike Jones has recycled more than 50 bikes in the run up to Christmas to give to families who can't afford presents.

Mr Jones, 44, from Newport, said he had been "inundated with offers, donations, and also really amazing stories of people who are really struggling".

"I've literally had people crying on the phone to me that they can't afford Christmas," he said.

He is now working with local charities and organisations to distribute them.

Mr Jones, who is a full time carer for his wife, started the project after buying a bike from a local charity shop for £2.50, doing it up and offering it for free on Twitter.

Since starting the project in November, he has received dozens of second-hand bike donations from people in the area.

Image source, Mike Jones
Image caption,
Many of the families receiving bikes aren't getting their pay until after Christmas

Mr Jones said he didn't expect the project to draw the kind of response that it did.

"I've spent the last weeks inundated with bikes. It's all very new. I didn't expect it to explode as it has," he said.

"It's really surprised me to be honest. You know, as a carer, we're not very well off ourselves, but it makes you realise some people have got really, really bad problems."

According to Mr Jones, a number of families within the local community can't afford Christmas presents for their children.

"A lot of the time people are messaging me privately on Twitter," he said.

"These are working people as well, [those] with universal credit, they've got nothing at all.

"A lot of them aren't getting paid until after Christmas and they're stuck in a situation where they can't do Christmas.

"I've had people say they can't put a tree up, they're visiting food banks, there's a massive need out there."

Image source, Mike Jones
Image caption,
Mr Jones said he'd been "shocked" by the need for second-hand bikes in the area

One of the organisations Mr Jones is now working with is social housing association Trevallis.

Sadye Baker, from Trevallis, said they had given three bikes from Mr Jones to families in Rhondda Cynon and Taff.

"I think what Mike's doing is fantastic and it's made me think a bit differently about Christmas," said Ms Baker.

"We had an email from one of the mothers of one of the children who received a bike, and she said that this'll absolutely make his Christmas.

"It means that little boy will have something to open on Christmas Day. She felt like she'd really let her family down because she really couldn't afford Christmas."

Image source, Mike Jones
Image caption,
Children who otherwise wouldn't have received a Christmas present will receive the recycled bikes

Another charity that has worked with Mr Jones is The Gap Wales, a charity that works with refugees and asylum seekers in Newport.

Mark Seymour, who runs bike workshops for the charity and who received some of Mr Jones' bikes, said: "This is an example of communities taking responsibility for themselves.

"What Mike is doing, and what we're doing, shows that grassroots community projects do work.

"You could have all the government projects in the world, but this is what we're doing, and it's working."