Voting opens for Guardian’s unsung heroes

published on 8 Apr 2015

Keith Young, who is workshop supervisor for Ilford’s Recycles social enterprise project, has been nominated for a Guardian Sustainable Business award in the Unsung Hero of the Year category.

Keith has worked tirelessly to establish Recycles as a viable social enterprise. The project supports people who have experienced homelessness or unemployment and assists them, along with cycling enthusiasts and other volunteers, in gaining bike mechanic skills – some with a view to entering the cycling industry, others for personal fulfilment.

Keith says of the nomination: ‘I was surprised to hear from Guardian that I’d been shortlisted for an Unsung Heroes award – I didn’t know I’d even been nominated!

‘I’ve always been interested in cycling, even as a kid, but I wouldn’t say what I do at Recycles is particularly heroic. People come to us with various needs and we work to train them as bike mechanics. It’s fun in itself playing with bikes and it’s great to see the people we work with gaining confidence in their own abilities having approached something they didn’t have any idea about before. It is especially rewarding to see those who’ve been told their whole lives that they will never come to anything as they turn around and say “I’ve done this.”

Recycles is accredited to deliver a City & Guilds training course and Keith has trained people with a specialist emphasis on restoring bikes that have been thrown away. He has developed partnerships with other organisations so that Ilford Salvation Army can distribute reclaimed paint and sell cycling panniers made from used items in order to generate new income streams for the project.

Not only are bikes and other disposed items brought back to life, but Keith’s efforts also reinvigorate people who have found themselves excluded from society.

To vote for Keith (before 10 April 2015) visit here