A WORKSHOP has been set up at a secondary school for pupils to refurbish and fix broken bicycles.

The new shed at Abingdon's Larkmead School opened last week, thanks to a £1,000 grant from Sovereign Housing.

Up to eight pupils per term can visit the cycle maintenance workshop after school, on a weekly basis every Wednesday, where they can pick up new skills and bring bikes back into working use.

Andy Barber, who is the school's inclusion coordinator and vocational studies teacher, set up the workshop to help pupils who would benefit from a more hands-on approach to education.

He said: "It could also be used to help students who already ride to school to get their bike serviced and maintained at a reasonable rate, making them safer road users.

"Ultimately we could build a vocational qualification around bike maintenance work, supporting students otherwise disengaged with learning to have a hands-on practical qualification that could support their future."

Sovereign Housing offers grants to support a wide variety of community projects, from events to upgrading public facilities.

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The organisation is one of the largest housing associations in the South of England, and runs several properties in Oxfordshire.

Announcing a bigger pot of money for this in August, Sovereign’s chief operating officer Heather Bowman said: "We’ve committed to increasing our funding for communities to £3m a year, because we know that when the drive and passion of a community is harnessed, nothing can stop people from achieving their goals."

The £1,000 grant for the bike maintenance shed will be used to pay for tools and equipment to kit out the workshop.

Bikes have already been donated by other partners, and one of the aims is for pupils to be supported to build their own bike and take it away if they have not got one, giving them a free mode of transport.

The longer-term plan is to resell bikes they refurbish, so the funds can be ploughed back into the project to enable it to grow.

Larkmead School worked with Sovereign Projects West and their planned and empty homes manager, Jason Searle, to build the workshop.

It has been pitched as a social value project and builders' merchant Travis Perkins has sponsored the cost of building work, while PMS construction company carried out the groundwork.

The workshop launched on Wednesday at the school in Faringdon Road, which teaches about 800 pupils and is part of the Vale Academy Trust.

Staff and pupils were invited to attend the grand opening at 10am, and learn more about the facility.