Norwich Bicycle Repair Co-operative Ltd

Job Vacancies


Current Vacancy: Co-op member/Bicycle Repair person/Project co-manager (training provided). Closing date for applications: Tuesday 15th August 2pm.

Please read all the information below carefully - we will only consider applications that provide all the information we have asked for.

What is the Job?

Norwich Bicycle Repair Co-operative Ltd (NBRC) is seeking a new member to work in its busy workshop based at the University of East Anglia Campus. NBRC is a fully mutual workers’ co-op, so our permanent employees (members) are all directors of the business and not only do the routine work of the business but share the responsibility for management too.

NBRC is relatively new, we formed in November 2013, however we’re already in high demand delivering the UEA Dr Bike contract and have scope for further expansion in the future. We’re a not-for-profit organisation with a strong ethical and environmental ethos.

The job we need to fill will, following training, involve:

You won’t need to do all of these things right away, but you will need to be able to contribute to some of them from the beginning and be willing to learn the rest.

We’re looking for someone who wants to do more than just mend bikes, but is also interested in becoming a full and active member of our Co-operative with joint responsibility for the organisation, management and development of our young business. This is not the kind of post where you just turn up, do work and go home - we’re looking to recruit someone who’s passionate about bikes, really cares about what NBRC is trying to do and shares our environmental and ethical goals. We’re also looking for someone who has commitment to the job as the trial period for membership takes 6-9 months and really getting up to speed with all aspects of the job may take even longer.

Hours and Pay

The job is initially for 24-26 hours per week. We will need you to work full days (8-9hours) on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, although these days may be negotiable. There may be scope to extend your hours in the future. If you get to the interview stage we will want to discuss exactly which hours and days you will work, but it will need to be a minimum average of 24 per week during our normal working hours (8.15am - 5.30pm, Monday to Friday), so make sure you are able to do this before applying.

The job also has above the statutory minimum (5.6 weeks) paid holiday. Aside from bank holidays and two weeks at Christmas, holiday is negotiable and agreed by consensus.

The starting wage will be a minimum of £8 per hour; rising to at least the current living wage as set by The Living Wage Foundation) and £9 if you succeed in being accepted as a full member. As a full member you’ll be involved in deciding how wages are set - we always aim to make these a fair reflection of the responsibility associated with each particular job within the co-op.

How do I apply?

If you would like to apply for this position please read the five Job Applicant Criteria below which describe the aptitudes and skills we are looking for. If you still think you’d like to apply then write us a letter explaining why you would like to be a member of our co-op, making sure it includes information about your skills, experience and aptitudes for each of the five criteria.

We will only be able to consider applications that contain both a letter and a CV

As we’ve mentioned, it is not necessary to have lots of experience for all the criteria we mention right away. However we would like to see evidence that you’ve thought about all of the criteria; can show that you have relevant skills and experience in some areas; and have the aptitude to develop areas where you have less experience over the job’s trial period. By aptitude we mean evidence that, for example, you have a systematic, problem-solving approach; you have previously gained proficiency in a craft, mechanical or technical skill and/or you are able to effectively manage your own learning.

Also, while there are a lot of skills we are looking for, “being best at writing letters” is not the most important of them. So if this application process seems daunting, it’s fine to get some help writing your letter, so long as the skills and experience you describe in the letter are true and a fair reflection of your abilities. We’d appreciate it if you mention in your letter if you’ve had assistance drafting it.

Please include a copy of your CV with this letter – the CV need only be brief, but must include your contact details (with email address), and the names and addresses of two referees.

We can only accept applications that include a letter (written specifically, not a standard covering letter) and a CV.

Job applicant criteria

1) Enthusiastic about bicycles

Being enthusiastic about bicycles and cycling, and interested in promoting cycling as a sustainable and accessible form of transport are absolutely essential for this job. It would also be preferable to be an experienced bicycle user.

It’s also important to have a non-elitist attitude to cycling - we serve a diverse audience of bicycle users and want everyone to feel welcomed. You will need to repair and renovate cycles as part of the job, so you must want to do this and either already have the skills to do so to a high, consistent and professional standard or be willing to develop them. Previous experience of working in bicycle repair, or having attended a course of training would be an advantage, but is not an essential criterion. However, if you don’t have formal experience we would want to know at a minimum you can:

Amateur mechanics should also show awareness that the demands of a professional repair workshop can be quite different from domestic repair and that they might need to develop and modify their skills, even in areas where they can already carry out repairs to some extent. Even if you have professional experience, not all workshops are the same so we will want to know you have the openness to develop, improve and keep current your skills whatever your starting point.

We’d also like to know about any related skills, qualifications or experience you have, for example working in the cycle trade, but in a non-repair role; bikeability training; membership of cycling clubs or particular types of cycling you participate in, like touring, mountain biking, stunt cycling, cycling with children or audax.

2) Keen to co-operate

We are a small workers’ co-operative. This means that there isn’t a manager down the corridor if we can’t solve a problem for ourselves; equally there isn’t a fleet of minions who turn up just to mop the floor or make the tea. Co-ops are a different type of business from most, with different values and organisational structures. Probably the most important thing for this job is that you are able to fit in with our organisation, which means being able to take a reasonable level of personal responsibility and initiative while still being a good team player who is willing to muck in.

Being co-operative includes being open, conscientious, easy-going: The thing about mending bicycles is that it really matters if you go wrong, so it’s important that you take care with your work. And we have to admit where we may have messed up so we can get to the bottom of problems quickly. Plus, we have to all get on really well or it just won’t work.

Good communication is also key to co-operation.

We’d like to know if you think you have these qualities, giving examples from your experience if you can.

We’d also like to know of any previous experience you have of working co-operatively or collectively, either formally as part of a job or voluntary role or more informally (for example in a food-group or babysitting circle; an allotment share or as part of a campaigning group).

We’d specifically like to know of any experience you have working in non-hierarchical groups or of consensus decision making. We are aware these are ideas that not everyone will have heard about before, let alone had a chance to work with! We don’t believe that you need to have had co-operative experience in the past to have the potential to be a great co-operator in the future, but we would like to see evidence that you’ve taken the time to find out what being a co-op means and that you are genuinely keen to be part of one.

There’s a quick guide to the 7 co-operative principles here and there’s lots more information about co-ops on the Co-operatives UK website (including more information about the co-operative principles).

We endeavour to make decisions using a consensus process. You can find out more about consensus decision making here.

3) IT/Admin/Business management and planning:

We mend bikes, but we also have to deal with the practical realities of running a business. We would like to know that you understand the importance of good information organisation and record keeping. Mending bicycles and running a business are both activities that can be fiddly and frustrating, being someone who is methodical, with good attention to detail is very helpful with this. Ideally you need a calm approach to problem-solving, following procedures, tying up loose ends and filling in paperwork is crucial.

In terms of specific skills we would like to know that you are confident with:

And also if you are able to/willing to learn:

And can show an interest in:

We’d specifically like to know of any experience you have in business planning; financial management; grant funding applications; tax returns or any other booking keeping and administrative roles. We would also like to know of any relevant qualifications that would equip you to undertake this side of the job. (For example in accountancy or business management).

4) Customer relations/communication

These are very important, both for communicating effectively within the co-op and with service users. Ideally you’ll be able to project an out-going and friendly persona and explain technical problems in plain English. Many of our services users do not have English as a first language, which can be an additional challenge when explaining mechanical problems to a non-technical audience.

We’d like to know about any specific language skills you have; and other relevant experience that shows you are an effective and sympathetic communicator.

5) Other useful skills and qualities

Ability to cope with a hectic environment: Sometimes the service we run gets very busy and there are a lot of different things going on. At such times it’s important to be able to get your head down and get on, even when there are potential distractions, and be supportive of the work other co-op members are trying to do. In such circumstance decisions about priorities often have to be both quick and flexible. This doesn’t happen all the time, but it happens often enough that if you’re likely to be unhappy with hecticness or struggle with switching between tasks then this isn’t the job for you.

A positive social and environmental outlook: People who set up not-for-profit bicycle repair projects are generally not primarily in it for the money. NBRC is an associate member of Radical Routes, and sees its work as making a positive contribution to a better world. Knowing whether you’re already involved in activities (paid or unpaid) that aim to create positive social or environmental change; or make choices in you personal life to this end will help us know understand whether you share our ethos.

Deadlines and key dates

The deadline for applications is 2pm on Tuesday 15th August 2017. We will email applicants that have been short-listed for interview by 10 am on Thursday 17th of August. Sorry, we will only have time to reply to your application personally if you have been shortlisted for interview.

We will be conducting interviews shortly after applicants have been shortlisted. Interviews typically last 1 to 2 hours and involve some practical elements so that you can demonstrate your knowledge. You will need to bring proof that you are eligible to work in the UK to your interview.

What happens next?

The successful applicant for this post will initially be recruited as an employee of NBRC on a temporary contract for between 6 and 9 months (depending on initial skill level). During this trial period either the applicant or NBRC can terminate the contract with 4 weeks notice. There will be a clear plan for demonstrating/developing all the skills and experience needed to become a full member of NBRC (over the trial period, with routine reviews to monitor progress). If, at the end of the temporary contract, we are happy with you as a member of the team, we will invite you to become a co-op member, which you can accept if you wish. Becoming a full member of NBRC requires becoming a director of NBRC, is a permanent role and involves having equal rights and responsibilities within the organisation as all other members.

We hope our new recruit will be able to start working with us in September.

Applications should be sent to:

Norwich Bicycle Repair Co-operative Ltd
20 Savery Close Norwich

by 15th August 2017