n need of a bike service and having walked past Rockstone Cycling Hub on a number of occasions, I was inspired to keep it local.
Meeting with the inspiring owners, Rockford Copeland and Clifton Goldson, to discuss the services available, it became apparent that the Hub is much more than a bike repair workshop. Rockford and Cliff are interested in repairing communities too, something that swiftly turns into the main topic of conversation.
I learn of their ‘postcode rides’ – a social inclusion activity for young people, all from different areas and estates, which gets them to ride in groups and from one rival postcode area to another.
It’s an initiative set up to directly tackle the prevalent postcode gang problems that are deeply affecting young people across the city, and in particular in Haringey.
Rockford talks with conviction about education, and in particular the need to encourage young people to engage in debate and dialogue during these formative years, as a means to keep unnecessary, often quickly-escalating confrontations off the streets.
Both Rockford and Cliff have backgrounds in youth and community work, both were born and brought up in London, both are avid cyclists; Rockstone presents a culmination in their efforts. “It’s about creating initiative”, says Rockford, “ensuring that young person wakes up in the morning, not with a dream, but a purpose, a plan.”
On returning to pick up my bike days later, invigorated by their project, the guys introduce me to other members of their wider team, apprentices and members of the local community. As Rockford puts it, “we work with them to try and build their confidence back into a place where it needs to be. We don’t only just fix bikes, its about nurturing others.”
Rockford credits his two daughters with founding the initiative “without them knowing” he laughs, when they encouraged him to go for a bike ride together and found that neighbouring children wanted to come along, only to discover that some of them not only didn’t have bikes and that some didn’t know how to ride.
Their inaugural bike ride started around Springfield and Markfield Parks and the project has gone from strength to strength ever since.
With their head office based in St Ann’s hospital, where the focus is on rehabilitation of in-patients, the group also have a strong following in the local borough and the team cite patronage from Jewish community youth groups in Stamford Hill as an important development, too.
Cliff hands me back my bike and he tells me about what it has just gone through. For the £60 Emerald Service, the bike has had a thorough spruce-up with a 2 day turnaround (next day is available for £70) as well as the opportunity for discounted repairs should it need remedial work.
Their entry-level service (Copper) is a snip at £30 whilst the £100 Diamond level offers a complete strip down and rebuild of your bike.
Whilst customers generally come for repairs and to purchase bikes – in particular repaired second hand model from £50 upwards – Rockford tells me about another of their initiatives called ‘Rockstone Breakthru’.
The scheme provides a range of bikes for hire which have been adapted for use by individuals with physical and learning disabilities, along with their carers. This has been a wild success and I see a number of users taking up the opportunity over the course of the day.
“Above all cycling is just not recognised as a viable form of transport as much as it should be by our local community”, Rockford concludes. As a local resident himself he seems heartened by the potential of the area and the growing relevance of the foundation’s key principle to use ‘cycling to facilitate health, education and youth development.’
Now I find myself again happily cycling my commute to work, thinking about the exciting remit that Rockstone have taken on, and their eagerness to share vision with the local community.