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Cycle shop setup to employ ex-offenders helps fight bike theft

Posted on in Business News , Cycles News

A bike shop that was created to provide jobs for ex-offenders leaving prison has now become a safe space for people to park their bikes.

XO Bikes

Picture: instagram.com/xobikes/

XO Bikes, based in Lewisham and Wandsworth shopping centres, has teamed up with app Hudjo that helps users find secure parking for their bikes to combat the rise in bike thefts.

Founder of XO Bikes, Stef Jones, 58, from West Dulwich, used to run an advertising agency in Soho before he became a volunteer at Brixton prison and said he setup the company because he “kept seeing the same guys coming back to prison”.

According to the latest Ministry of Justice figures, Lewisham’s reoffending rate was just under a quarter, at 23.5 per cent.

Mr Jones believes the reoffending rate is so high because ex-offenders struggle to find employment once they have left prison.

“Ex-offenders are obliged to declare [to employers] they have been to prison and because of harsh policies from the across the political parties who want to be tough on crime there is no investment in rehabilitation, just punishment,” said Mr Jones.

“The only education they receive is how to commit crime. they’re left with no hope and no belief. But if you give them a chance, they will show you that they are hard-working, brilliant and loyal staff.”

Mr Jones first opened XO Bikes in Lewisham shopping centre in May 2022 before opening the second shop in Wandsworth this summer.

“I don’t want to be Halfords,” said Mr Jones. “I just want a loud brand that can be built on the shoulders of guys in prison and to hopefully change the behaviour of other employers.”

The shop gets unclaimed bikes from the police and donations from the public, which Mr Jones says they always need more of. They fix up the bikes and sell them on to help pay the wages of staff and to train more ex-offenders.

Trevelyan Shonubi, 24, from east London is one of the mechanics at the bike store and said it was “a relief” knowing he had a job lined up when he left prison.

“I was only in for 14 or 15 months but it’s a worry when you come out because of how employers view people in prison.

“I was approached by an organisation four or five weeks before my release who told me about XO Bikes – I worked as a mechanic before I went to prison – and I thought ‘yeah, that’s me’.

“It was a relief, it was ideal. What I’m doing right now is my passion.”

Now the shop is helping combat bike thefts acting a safe storage location for those worried about locking it up in the street.

Charlie FitzRoy, co-founder of Hudjo said: “After having our bikes stolen, David Gamble and I co-founded Hudjo, an app that enables cyclists to easily find and securely park within the premises of businesses – think Airbnb but for parking your bike.  

 “Stef and the rest of the team at XO bikes have been incredibly helpful and open minded to give our new app a go. We look forward to partnering with them to help tackle problems with bike theft crime.”

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