Wheels for Wellbeing is a charity that is local to our office in London, UK and serves the South London areas of Croydon, Herne Hill and Lewisham by supporting disabled people of all ages and abilities to enjoy the benefits of cycling through cycling sessions.
Cycling can also be easier than walking and offers a great way to stay independent and fit and healthy. A bike can be a freedom machine, mobility aid and a useful form of everyday transport.
Before the coronavirus pandemic put the brakes on group activities, Wheels for Wellbeing was running inclusive cycling sessions for disabled people and their families, carers and friends. With support and encouragement from qualified instructors and volunteers, Wheels for Wellbeing allowed participants to have a go at cycling, find a bicycle that worked for them, and get comfortable riding. They also ran “led rides” which would guide participants on rides on the road; helping them to gain the confidence and experience needed to go solo, or to enjoy a group ride exploring the area.
Who does Wheels for Wellbeing help?
Wheels for Wellbeing was founded in 2007, and has since helped thousands of disabled people to find the joy of cycling.
A few of the people that they’ve helped most recently are Edie, Rafferty and Grant.
When coronavirus put a stop to group cycling sessions, some of their regular participants were left without the bikes that they loved. So Wheels for Wellbeing got to work! They loaned their bicycles out.
Edie, who first learned to ride a bike at a Wheels for Wellbeing session last year (and gained confidence over a summer of cycling) borrowed a bike from the charity over this summer and has “been thrilled [and] out on it almost every day”. Her health issues meant that she and her family haven’t been able to get out of the house much during the pandemic and found it amazing to have a bike which “enables her to exercise and also teaches her new skills”.
Rafferty has also been able to borrow a trike during lockdown and, in the summer, was cycling most days. “It’s really important for his neurodegenerative condition (one of the symptoms of which is paraplegic spasticity) to get lots of exercise; his lower limbs especially need a good workout”, so the trike was just the thing. He loves the freedom that being in the saddle affords him and is thrilled to “finally [have] a vehicle on which he can race with other kids”. Allez, Rafferty!
When they’re running their group rides, veteran Grant is a regular and credits Wheels for Wellbeing with opening doors for him to take part in the Invictus Games, Warrior Games and Help for Heroes. He found hand cycling, and the freedom that it gives him to go places, a brilliant way of keeping rolling in spite of worsening arthritis.
What will our money go towards?
Wheels for Wellbeing’s “led rides” are generally funded by a cycling grant but there is, unfortunately, a funding gap for the next couple of months. Our money will go towards allowing these to keep going - as 1-to-1 rides during lockdown, and group rides when permitted - and keeping the joy and freedom of journeying in the saddle available to all.
As an example:
£5 could cover costs so that a disabled person can participate in a led ride for free
£15 could pay for a brand new shiny cycling helmet for a participant
£20 could pay for one hour of Wheels for Wellbeing's expert bike mechanic's work keeping their wonderful cycles in tip-top condition
£50 could contribute to the cost of footplates, which support Wheels for Wellbeing's participants and help develop their pedalling skills