Have you ever wondered what happens to bicycles which are abandoned at railway stations?

Well, here’s the answer.

Southern Railway collects the bikes and then stores them at their depot in Horsham. If they are unclaimed by their owners, the train operator donates them to help unemployed, homeless and vulnerable people.

Southern has recently given 27 bikes to the recycling programme run by Sussex Community Development Association (SCDA) at Newhaven.

The latest van-load delivered to SCDA’s Newhaven workshop means the rail company has now donated more than 180 bikes to the charity since forming their partnership in 2020.

Southern’s Natalie Parker and Martin Parker delivering unwanted bikes to SCDA’s mechanic Paul Horta-Hopkins

The workshop is part of SCDA’s ‘Get Socially Active/Recycle’ programme. Local unemployed people learn how to renovate the bikes and return them to roadworthiness, gaining practical skills, work experience and support on routes to employment.

SCDA sells the renovated bikes to raise funds for the programme, also supported by the European Social Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund. The scheme welcomes donations of unwanted bikes, and volunteers with repair and maintenance skills.

Lee Wakefield, SCDA employability service manager, said: “We are very grateful to Southern for their kind donation. Our participants in the Recycle programme gain valuable skills in bicycle maintenance and repair before the refurbished bikes are sold on to local people. We are looking ahead to a busy 2022 – the demand for refurbished bikes is growing, and so is the need to continue supporting people in our local community to gain the skills they need to get back to work.”

Chris Fowler, Southern’s customer services director, said: “It’s fantastic to be working with SCDA not only to promote healthy, green transport by extending the life of previously unwanted bikes, but to help provide truly life-changing support for the most vulnerable people in our communities.”

Southern also donates bikes to other charity recycling schemes in West Sussex, Surrey and South London.

“We’re building strong local partnerships right across our network to help communities recover and prosper, and to keep Britain moving safely and sustainably,” added Chris.