Name: ROLL FOR THE SOUL
Mission: TO SUPPORT BRISTOL’S CYCLING CULTURE AND PROVIDE A WELCOMING CITY SPACE
In a couple of weeks time I will have been living in Bristol for a year. When I arrived here I knew that it was a good city to cycle in, so I decided to conquer my fears and get a bike. Learning to ride after only sporadic riding and then a gap of 12 years was a nerve-racking experience. I’m so glad that I did it though as Bristol really does a lot to try and help its cyclists. I had a couple of lessons with Life Cycle, then I bought a bike from a friend and it was through him that I discovered Roll for the Soul.
Roll for the Soul (RftS) is is a not-for-profit bike café, workshop and event space located smack bang in the centre of Bristol. I managed to catch up with Rob who works there. “We have a café and workshop side by side, so you can get some tasty vegetarian food, a good coffee, and get your bike fixed up all at the same time.” One of their main aims is to celebrate and support the Bristol bike culture and act as a hub for all things bike-related. So if you want space for your cycling group or club to meet, or you just want to find out what’s going on in the world of pedal power, then RftS is the place to visit.
The original team of four who started putting the project together met through Bristol Cycle Festival. They ran a pop-up bike cafe for the Festival in summer 2012. “The Festival was a big inspiration for the business. We wanted to provide that same sort of focal point for cycling all year round, rather than just for one week in the summer. Only proper bike geeks hang out in bike shops, and we wanted to have a much broader appeal than that, so a café seemed like a good idea as it’s a social space which you don’t get in a conventional bike shop.”
All the staff at RftS are passionate about bikes and they’ve had a lot of interest from people who just want to help out and get involved. They also work hard to attract folks who’ve yet to discover the joy of two wheels and offer beginners workshops and have links with The Bristol Bike Project.
Things have developed a bit in the time RftS has been open, and they’ve broadened things out to include more non-bike stuff. “Live music, art exhibitions, fundraisers, making and doing. We’ve got the space, you’ve got the ideas. We want to reclaim a bit of the city centre for things that might just hold back the rising tide of homogenisation.”
RftS is a not-for-profit Community Interest Company. This means that any surplus money they make has to be reinvested so that they can achieve their social aims. These are:
• To help more people enjoy the benefits of cycling
• To provide a home for Bristol’s cycling community, celebrating our cycling culture
• To offer a friendly, welcoming and fun environment for all, making cycling normal
• To support cycling social enterprises through whatever means, including financially
• To pay a living wage in an excellent working environment
• To contribute positively to our community and to our city’s cultural life
As with setting up any business, RftS have had to face some challenges. “It’s a bigger space with more staff and lots going on. So it’s quite a lot to keep on top of, and it’s hard work. You sort out one problem and something else crops up pretty quickly. It’s all mostly small stuff, but it certainly keeps you on your toes!”
RftS haven’t got any massive changes planned and aim “to just keep on doing, what we’re doing and hopefully get better at it. It takes a long time to establish a business but we’re enjoying watching it grow. For me, it’s small things that are really lovely. For example when someone says they enjoyed their food, or got really good service in the workshop. Ultimately that’s what’s satisfying: giving people a good experience.”
RftS has a great atmosphere and has quickly become my favourite place in town. The staff are lovely and the food is super tasty, (you can check out the menu here) and the workshop offers brilliant bicycle expertise. I can’t recommend it enough!