bikery trainee case studies


The Centre for Better Health recognises a healthy community is an inclusive community in which individuals can live satisfying and hopeful lives and where there is no stigma about mental ill health.

Our Social Enterprises, Better Health Bakery, Better Health Bikes and Better Health Products, are each a thriving example of this ethos in practice.

Here we celebrate and share the inspiring stories and work that we see our trainees producing day-in and day-out.

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Temebra attended a trainee placement at Better Health Bikes from May until August 2019. Her goal for the placement was to learn new job skills, as a keen cyclist herself she specifically enjoyed the idea of learning how to work on bikes and develop a new area of knowledge and skills. She also wanted to use the placement to help develop her weekly routine alongside other volunteering opportunities, and to get used to meeting and being around new people.

In the 12 weeks that Temebra spent with us, her overall scores across the soft skills we focus on to get trainees back into work increased from 51 to 56. In her own words, “I’ve enjoyed engaging with both the ‘learning’ process and meeting other people too. Meeting new people can be a challenge, but I enjoyed it and everyone is very nice. Making the effort to attend every week was worth it!”

With the 12-week placement under her belt, Temebra is now applying for a volunteer Ceramics assistant role with our parent charity, the Centre for Better Health. A part of our Wellbeing Hub, the charity offers a series of wellbeing courses twice annually, Ceramics being a popular offer within this. She is also considering a second placement in the bike shop in the coming months with a keen view to gaining accreditation as a qualified bike mechanic.

Outside of this, Temebra volunteers for Social Sings and Healthwatch Hackney, so has been building up a routine and reports as being happy with her weekly structure at the moment. Temebra is also seeking funding assistance in order to continue studying Russian Language in the new year.



Ben attended a trainee placement at Better Health Bikes from April to July 2019, joining the programme so that he could work on his motivation and confidence, particularly in the workplace where he had faced challenges in the past due to being diagnosed with dyslexia.

In the 12 weeks that Ben spent with us, his overall scores across the soft skills we focus on to get trainees back into work increased from 39 to 43. In his own words, “My confidence, motivation and social skills have all improved. Being around the guys [mechanics], I’ve become more open to talk about things, and the time I spent working in the bike shop really helped me build up confidence with customers as well. I feel more encouraged now about going to work in a bike shop.”

With the 12-week placement under his belt, Ben is now looking into gaining a Cytech Level 2 qualification with ATG Training. This is the trade standard for any professional cycle mechanic. It is 10 days training including all the skills to service and maintain cycles and build wheels to a high standard. It will also equip Ben with the knowledge and skills to work safely and efficiently as a professional mechanic. The course is certificated by Cytech and EAL and includes training, assessment and knowledge checks throughout the course and a final practical assessment to confirm knowledge and ability.

Ben is also looking for part-time work, with an application already under his belt to potentially come back and work at Better Health Bikes later in the year as a part-time member of staff. If his application is successful, he will be assisting with sales, customer enquiries and the general maintenance of stock and the retail space, with room to include some work on bike refurbs and servicing so he can continue to brush up on his bicycle maintenance skills.



Afaq attended a trainee placement at Better Health Bikes from September to December 2018. He was then granted a second placement, rolling on to March 2019, in order to perfect his skills in preparedness for a City & Guilds bicycle mechanic training course and certification.

Initially Afaq joined the programme so that he could seek employment in bike mechanics, but after a long period of depression was also looking for the satisfaction and joy of learning something new, the chance to meet and socialise with people, make connections and take part in the exchange of thoughts and ideas.

In his own words, “it’s not just a monotonous training, it’s a conversation with each other and this has helped me to better understand how a bike shop works.” On starting his second placement in January 2019, Afaq was keen to be as perfect a bike mechanic as he can be. It was at this point that he started to think about further training and certification, and was warming to the idea of volunteering in a bike shop to further hone his newly acquired skills.

“There are so many tools! This is a very unique training and learning how to use all the different tools has really captured my interest.” True to this testimony, Afaq’s wellbeing outcomes over the course of his second placement went from strength to strength, moving from an overall score of 50 to 56 in three months.

“Excellent, wonderful, awesome, amazing – there are no words to express my gratitude. I have learnt what I wanted to learn and it’s definitely going to help me in the future. My confidence, motivation and social skills have all improved because the interaction here was like a new opening for me. Everybody – from admin through to the bakers and bike mechanics – made it very easy for me to socialise. I found the environment very motivating. We’re all from different backgrounds and with different lifestyles, but we’re all in the same boat!”

Having completed his second placement Afaq is now looking to secure a regular volunteering placement at Paradise Cycles in Bethnal Green.



Brian attended a trainee placement at Better Health Bikes from August to October 2018, and was granted a second placement, rolling on to January 2019, in order to fully complete his training and hone his skills, readying him for part-time employment as a bike mechanic.

Brian joined the programme so that he could go on to study for a Cytech training and accreditation for bicycle technicians, improve his motivation by learning new skills and meeting new people, and get back into the routine of getting up at a regular time.

When Brian finished his first placement he had made excellent progress with his bike skills, was enjoying working in a team and getting on well with a wide range of people, and was keeping good time. In visiting some of the bike shops in the local area to look for work he realised however that he needed to gain more experience and this prompted him to request further support from Better Health Bikes.

With the Hub Service under his belt, new goals were defined to help Brian focus on specific areas of improvement, such as wheel truing and front and back derailleurs, and at the end of his second placement Brian reported being, “ready to do the Cytech and maybe the Cytech technical (e-bike) qualification and am currently looking into funding for this.”

He continued, “Everyone is so nice, I’ve built confidence with meeting new people and am ready to get out to work. I’ve developed a routine and am keen to keep it up.”

The one piece of advice he would offer to a new trainee starting at the bike shop? “Take notes! The mechanics have a lot of knowledge, loads of little detail that you won’t necessarily get taught elsewhere, so take advantage of this!”

Now he has completed his placement Brian is actively looking for part-time employment while volunteering two days a week at About The Bike in Dalston. In addition, he has made a personal commitment to complete the Cytech training within the next 18 months.



Ian attended a trainee placement at Better Health Bikes from November 2018 to January 2019.

Having been out of work for three months, Ian self-referred for a place on the trainee bike mechanic programme in order to help gain some structure to his week and rebuild his confidence in a professional working environment. In his words, this was an opportunity to “create a new narrative for myself.”

When Ian started his placement he was keen to improve his social skills by interacting with and meeting new people at the project. He wanted to rebuild his resilience by attending the placement every week, even when he was not having a good day, and although he said he found this challenging to begin with, was pleased he’d found a way to get through this.

Ian has always been passionate about bikes, and started the placement looking to improve his practical skills and knowledge, gain experience and ultimately aim for a qualification.

At the beginning of his placement Ian rated his job skills, motivation, routine, confidence and social skills as 5, 7, 4, 4 and 4. At the end he then rated these all as a 7 or higher, showing a marked improvement in all areas.

Ian said: “Working at the bike shop helped me to gain structure which is really important, especially during a time when it was really needed. Not only have I now got a view of how to fix bikes professionally – rather than in my back garden - but I have also enjoyed the social aspect of working in a supported environment. It has really boosted my confidence.”

He continued, “I feel positive about everything, and really like the whole mindset behind Better Health Bikes and the Centre for Better Health, where I am now attending group Tai chi as well as for access to low cost counselling. I would definitely consider coming to back to volunteer at the bike shop, it’s the most positive environment I’ve been in and has made me see what is possible in this regard. It’s made me feel that I can contribute as well to a positive working environment.”

On completing his placement Ian took up full-time employment at UCL while exploring options to go on to study for a City & Guilds bike mechanic qualification in the near future.