Just as businesses and shops across the country closed their doors, one bike shop in Dublin was opening its doors.

As well as repairing and selling bikes, it is also helping people with addiction problems to get back to work.

They do things a little differently over at Frontline Bikes in Inchicore in Dublin. For a start, they were preparing to open their doors for the first time as Level 5 restrictions took hold.

Although the project has been in development for some time, Stuart Fraser, the CEO of Frontline Make Change, says: "We know bike shops are an essential service, and we kind of see this as an opportunity."

The bikes at the shop are not new. They have been rescued from skips, donated and upcycled. They are then given a complete overhaul and new look.

Frontline Bikes in Inchicore

The shop is different too because the staff and the mechanics who work here have all had addiction problems in the past.

"We are taking discarded bikes that'd probably go to landfill and are upskilling and training people that are more socially excluded, furthest away from the jobs market and giving them relevant skills in today's market place and giving them employment which is massive... and definitely giving them a second chance," says Stuart.

One of the newly employed mechanics is Gerard McBrearty.

"I got involved in criminality at a young age," he says.

"I ended up in prisons, addicted to substance, I had many years homeless as well. It's been quite the journey."

Gerard McBrearty

He says this new job has given him a new lease of life.

"The structure, the routine, the normality, being part of a community... the self-worth I'm gaining day-in is huge in my recovery. And in others' recovery too because they look at me in the community and say 'if he's able to do it, then so can I'."

There has been a boom in the number of people dusting down their old bikes or getting new ones since this pandemic took hold and under the current Level 5 restrictions people are being encouraged to walk and cycle if possible. 

But for those working at Frontline Bikes, it is more than a bike shop - it is about a fresh start.

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