Our build-a-bike service supports all sorts of individuals to build confidence, gain employment skills and qualifications to support them back into education or employment.
We chatted to Dylan who after completing his course last year is now a full time employee at our Trowbridge store.
“My name’s Dylan Alexander, I’m 19 years old. For the past three years, since 2019 or so, I was struggling with anxiety after leaving college. I was very shakey about starting the course but I went ahead with it. It was a slow start, especially because it was sort of the first time I’d been put in a social situation where I had to be around people, talk, ask questions and all that. For example, when I was stripping down a bike, I was doing one thing at a time. After I finished one task I would stand there, completely still and wait to be asked if I needed help, and I would say ‘Yes please’ very timidly.”
“I’m a lot more social since working here. I’ve definitely had more responsibilities, in terms of not only doing my main job – I’ve been in the office, but I’m also able to work on the shop floor, in the workshop, and I’ve got plenty of experience talking to customers and having conversations.”
“I left secondary school and had a careers’ advisor who was stressing out over me because I made no plans whatsoever. I would say I was getting a slow interest in the whole music stuff and wanted to do a course in, you know, something to do with music, but the ones that interested me were very far away, in Salisbury, which wasn’t ideal. So I ended up going to Lacombe College sort of as a last resort; it was fine to begin with, but I hadn’t spoken to anyone – not even tutors or teachers – for two weeks.”
“I think it was my third day when I had my first panic attack, which was horrible. I had to go to the receptionist and explain what was going on and after that I was seeing the wellbeing person from Lacombe for a little while. She was helpful.”
“When I first got to Julian House and the build-a-bike scheme, the idea of it was really good; taking people from different backgrounds, getting them into social situations with really friendly people, getting to meet other people on the course and opening up opportunities with the fact that you get a build a bike and get to go further than you normally would. I thought it was a really great opportunity to take so I ended up going for it…and now I’m working here, which is pretty cool!”
“Did I have any concerns? Definitely! It was a big step forward from what I’d been doing previously. When I did actually start I met Geraldine who was really supportive, she was just excellent from day one. My main concerns were definitely dropping out of the course due to anxiety. I decided to persevere and stay on the course cos it was one day a week, for a few hours, for four weeks or something like that. So after I did one course, I could go home and prepare myself for the next course. But it was definitely a good idea to go for it…which I’m happy I did.”
“I was completely unsure when I first heard about it. I was very on the fence. If I go, it could be a big step forward to coming out of my shell and becoming more social. If I don’t go I could stay more as an introvert and become more reclusive, which was what I was before. You can only try. If you don’t like it there’s no obligation. There’s no-one saying “You have to keep going”. Everyone on the course comes from different backgrounds, so everyone’s very understanding if you don’t want to carry on. But Geraldine would always help you out if you have doubts or any thoughts of not wanting to stay on. If you were struggling mentally or even physically, she would be there to assist you and to help you on the course.”
“Since I’ve done the course, I have started using the bike I made – cos once you build a bike you get to take it home. Once I’d done that I felt that my opportunities definitely started to pick up. I’d been cycling a lot when I was younger, not really going on things like triathlons but I was always on my bikes. So I suppose having that opened new opportunities and I was cycling a lot more, just going around the block on it. It was doing wonders for my mental health.”
“Since finishing the course, I noticed there was a Kickstart role for an e-commerce job at the Julian House Bike Workshop. I already recognized the atmosphere, the people there, it’s very close to home, so I put a CV together and went straight to Geraldine to talk about the role. I was feeling very positive about it, and got the role.”
“Since working here the people I once saw as colleagues are definitely much more friends, I would say. They’re a good laugh, good banter, talkative, all of that. Seeing them every day and being able to laugh with them has been great for me. They’re the friendliest bunch of workers you’ll probably come across.”
“Each month feels like a milestone. The first two were a bit shaky, I was still settling down and it did take me a while to get used to it, but after those two months it felt like it was more part of me, I suppose. Another achievement is definitely selling a £600 bike! That was great. Not only was I speaking to the customers, I was showing them round the shop, and what they wanted I told them, and how each bike is different from each other, took it for a test drive and went and sold it!”
“I suppose the best part is – I don’t want to say my job ending – but getting through six months and seeing the change in myself and all the adults around me seeing it (my parents included, my brother and sister), they noticed the biggest change in me since I started the job…and I don’t think I’ve ever been happier of my achievements. With my future, as many close friends and relatives of mine would know, I have a very large interest in music, but since working here I’ve got a very big interest in bikes. So being able to pursue anything musically – because that has been my saving grace over the last three or four years – anything in that field. Or anything where I’m able to be around bikes or refurbish things to former glories, those kinds of things. I definitely am looking forward to seeing how much further I can go with my mental health since starting here. I mean, there’s so much more that I can do, and I feel like now I’m able to actually go and do it instead of just talking about it.”
“I want to give the biggest thank you to Julian House for this massive opportunity that has definitely changed me completely as a person and really just given me my life back. The charity has done so much for me and the Bike Workshop has done so much more for me as well. It’s being around people and being able to talk to people. Just the small things have made such a big difference to me as a person and I’m really grateful for that.”