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Working on independence, one bike at a time at The Gathering Place in St. John's

David Mandville, a case management worker at The Gathering Place in St. John’s, has started a bike repair shop at the facility to help those guests at the centre who have bikes get repairs done to their mode of transportation. The shop opened on Monday.
David Mandville, a case management worker at The Gathering Place in St. John’s, has started a bike repair shop at the facility to help those guests at the centre who have bikes get repairs done to their mode of transportation. The shop opened on Monday. - Sam McNeish

Finding ways to help its clients is an area where The Gathering Place staff thrive.

When there is a need, they find a way to help.

Many of the clients who avail of services at the St. John’s location get to and from the centre and other locations on foot.

But what if there were other ways for them to travel around the city? Perhaps by using a bicycle?

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Helping them add this mode of transportation to their daily lives was the idea behind the establishment of a bike repair shop at The Gathering Place which officially opened its bike repair facility on Monday.

“We had the donation of a bike rack and some tools and then we discovered we had a staff member (David Mandville) who was comfortable with bike repair,’’ Joanne Thompson, executive director of The Gathering Place said Monday during the launch its the newest asset.

“He really gravitated to it and will operate it one day a week here,’ she added.

Thompson said the idea is to teach the guest at Gathering Place how to be more self-sufficient and those who have an aptitude towards all-things mechanical can help out with repairs and those who are interested in learning a new skill set can be mentored by Mandville as well.
Mandville works at the centre as a case manager so he understands the needs of the guests and what having a working bike would mean to them and offering a bike repair program is an excellent opportunity to break down barriers on several levels.

“The obvious barrier to bike repairs is the cost. With old bikes, there is lots of fiddling and it is difficult to get bikes fixed,’’ Mandville said.
“A lot of times this is their only form of transportation, how they get around. This program will give them more independence and freedom to get out and around the community,’’ he added.
He said there were already two bikes repaired at the facility on Monday as it gets off the ground and Mandville said this is good start.
“People here have already show a lot of interest. A lot of them are mechanically inclined and this will allow us to involve the guests by starting a program where they can share their skills or acquire new ones,’’ he said.

samuel.mcneish@thetelegram.com

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