Case Study - September 2023

This case study has been kindly completed by Elspeth Gracey, who is one of our valued Community Green Team volunteers.

The second in a series of case studies on volunteers in the De'ils On Wheels community bike workshop.

This volunteer is retired and has volunteered with De'ils On Wheels for many years. They previously volunteered twice weekly but recent health issues and increased family commitments means they have cut back to one day a week.

In response to the question What is the best thing about being a volunteer? their response was “I really agree with the principles the organisation stands for, the philosophy of the whole organisation is important to me. That’s the main thing.”


“There’s not much around health and wellbeing for me.”

“In terms of skills I do the bicycle skills course from time to time but I was fairly adept before being a volunteer. In the early days I was sent on training courses and in particular the wheel building skills but I’ve been a cyclist all my life and always done my own bike maintenance.”

People and Place

“It’s important to stay connected to people and I suppose the workshop does that because I’m in a semi-professional mode there.”

“Glasgow Eco Trust are very accommodating and so I can say I definitely benefit from my connections there. You do need to stay connected through other people.”

Do you feel more able to take part in community life?

“Well I would say that although it’s called the Glasgow Eco Trust it has remained a very local organisation. And of course the local need is a bottomless pit. To some degree it has made me aware of other local things but I always was pretty connected to things local.”

"Building a bike for sale is more satisfying because they invariably go to people who need them - maybe to get to their work or for their children.” De'ils On Wheels volunteer


Has it increased your awareness of reuse, recycling etc?

“I’ve always been pretty aware of those things. The organisation tries hard to do recycling but with the bikes to do it properly is very labour intensive. Some bikes are so badly damaged that they just need to be scrapped as a whole, but it can take half an hour to look them over and go through the Dr Bike assessment looking at it in detail to decide that. If I’m doing that or stripping a bike for parts I’m not building a bike for sale. Building a bike for sale is more satisfying because they invariably go to people who need them - maybe to get to their work or for their children.”

Feedback about the workshop

Could things be done better or differently?

“It’s all comes down to time and people, whether they enact the principles or not. The workshop can be chaotic at times but that seems to be the nature of the beast. It goes in waves from being manageable to being unmanageable. I’ve seen that over the years that just seems to be the way it is. Recently we got 20 bikes donated and that swamped us, lots were just scrappers but before we could even do any work we had to lift 20 bikes outside out of our way.”

Is the Workshop Manager the only one who decides what should be scrapped?

“No, volunteers will do the Dr Bike checks on bikes but it takes half an hour so it’s labour intensive. I feel it’s an insolvable conundrum.”

“We have cabinets full of parts but some of those you don’t know if they work until you fit them to a bike. For the first time ever we are going to close to the public for a week and go through the cabinets to assess what should be kept. It’s a monumental task but hopefully that will help.”

“I know in the past the chaotic nature of it hasn’t suited some previous volunteers - it’s not a designer workshop. People who want perfection, it drove them bonkers. You’ve got to be careful it’s far from an Instagram workshop. I’m a pragmatist and just get on with it.”

“The Workshop Manager would never complain he’s too nice. They just can’t say no. They would never be a business person, they try to accommodate everybody.”

Anything else you’d like to add?

“I feel good about being a volunteer with De’ils on Wheels. Glasgow Eco Trust is a good organisation. They are very attentive and very approachable. If I had a real problem I would go straight to the manager, they are a good person, I wouldn’t hesitate. I always go to their AGM and other activities.”