Nazarenes repair, donate bikes to health workers in UK
When Francis Kinnon’s wife urged him to get some exercise, he went to look at his bicycle, which had sat unused in his garage for years. The bicycle needed repairs, so he asked his son Ben, an engineer who is out of work due to stay-at-home orders, for help. While they worked on the bike together, they sensed God showing them an opportunity to help provide transportation for frontline workers.
Kinnon, who is also out of work, is an active member of Church on the Corner, a Nazarene church near Blackpool, England. The father-son duo decided to take donations of used bicycles, repair them, and donate them to health care workers. They called their project Bikes for Heroes.
After advertising the project in multiple places including Facebook, they received 125 responses within 30 minutes. Many of the contacts offered to give them old bicycles, and some were requesting bicycles.
The first day, they picked up 10 bicycles, which filled up their garden workshop and even the kitchen. They had another problem beyond limited space: the two of them alone couldn’t repair the bikes fast enough, let alone sort through and answer the flood of inquiries, and then deliver the finished bikes.
Ben’s friend and fellow engineer Dave Sherry offered to help with the repairs while the church’s pastor, Ken Baker, offered the church building as a workshop.
“The church building has been empty and unused since lockdown over a month ago,” Baker said. “I thought it was a wonderful project and a wise use of empty space.”
Baker and Kinnon estimate that 150 bikes have been received, and with a team of three mechanics working long days, about 40 have been repaired and donated so far.
“God just kept throwing more and more at us,” Kinnon said in a video post [trying to find this link] on Facebook. “We were then overwhelmed with a response from the general public. The more we gave, the more God gave.”
The Salvation Army got involved, donating brake parts, gear changes, gear wires, as well as three bike repair stands so that Ben, Dave, and Kinnon wouldn’t hurt their backs by bending over for hours.
They had been delivering the bicycles out of their car, which could only hold one bike at a time. A company heard about their work and offered them a van for deliveries.
“We started off with the small van and, obviously by God’s grace, within a day we needed a bigger van,” Kinnon said.
Just 10 days after they first posted their advertisement for Bikes for Heroes, a large, empty hospital was donated as space to expand their repair work. In addition, a local firm offered a fleet of vans to help in the bike collection and distribution, as well as free gas cards so the drivers can fuel up for free. The firm also donated magnetic signs with the Bikes for Heroes logo to replace the firm’s logo on the vans.
“My son, who was going stir crazy in his flat, is now working with his hands and his mind and feels so fantastic about it,” Kinnon said. “His friend Dave is also taken out of his flat and being productive. My wife, Bev, is doing the administration. My daughter, Rhys, is helping us deliver. My daughter’s friend is cleaning and doing the jobs that engineers don’t particularly like to do. It’s become a completely unique group of people coming together.”