Moving towards a Better Future on Two Wheels with Positive People

Wellbeing and sustainability are amongst Positive People’s top priorities when it comes to looking at new ways the project can support people from all backgrounds.

After all, our wellbeing (both mentally and physically) will determine our future health, and our individual ‘green’ steps towards sustainability will define how we leave our environments for the next generation and beyond!

Positive People Devon and Bikespace in Plymouth have teamed up with a mission of providing people, from all different backgrounds and abilities, with the tools and knowledge they need to develop their skills on two wheels, alongside improving life, social and employability skills.

Our 12-week bike programme is completely unique. We focus on developing confidence, overcoming social barriers and building practical transferable skills that can be applied in real-life situations – from a social point of view and from an employability point of view.

“The benefits of fresh air, exercise and reducing our carbon miles are becoming increasingly important for all of us,” says Rachel Elford, Positive People Team Leader for Plymouth. “Positive People are always looking for new and exciting ways to engage people with the benefits of going green. In Devon, cycle trails and open spaces are aplenty for people to enjoy, and we feel that equipping people with the right bike training, health and safety skills and their very own bike, free of charge, can only benefit their sense of independence and wellbeing.”

“It’s not just about the cycling and maintenance, it’s all the different skills picked up throughout the process and the social development – it really is something so many people can benefit from, and we hope that participants will continue to benefit from the course now and into the New Year!”

“Some of the participants who attend our current programme cannot ride a bike and are more interested in the social and bike maintenance side of things – the course isn’t just for bike fanatics, it can support people in many different ways. There are opportunities to gain recognised AQA awards and on completion of the course, individuals are presented with their very own mountain bike to start their journey on two wheels. For many of the participants on the course, this will support them with independence and freedom, as well as enjoyment!” says AJ, Workshop Manager at the Bikespace Project.

Currently, there are two groups attending the 12-week course. “We have participants with learning disabilities attending every Friday, and on a Monday we have participants from a variety of different backgrounds attending. The course has commenced again in 2019 and we encourage anyone who is either interested in bikes, wants to learn more about maintenance and cycling, gain recognised qualifications, build confidence, make new friends and develop their skills to get in touch with the team at Positive People. It really is a fantastic opportunity!” says AJ.

In December, we went along to meet with our group of bike fanatics to see what all the ‘bike hype’ is about…

For Greg, his time spent on the course has been something he has enjoyed endlessly. Greg is 33 years old and has a learning disability.

“I have never really ridden a bike, but for me, the course has helped me build my confidence and gets me out of the house to do something different each week – I always look forward to Fridays! I’ve particularly enjoyed taking apart the bikes and learning about all the different parts, and how they can be maintained and fixed. You learn something new every week! I would encourage anyone who enjoys bikes, or wants to learn a new skill or have some fun to come along in January!”

Greg was right, there are so many different aspects of bike maintenance that an untrained eye would miss! We were certainly at a loss when it came to part identification and classifying!

For Amy, 28 and Chaz, 34, the learning journey is a team effort, with both women building a strong bond as they polish up second-hand bikes that will eventually be sold at affordable prices to the public, promoting recyclability and that nothing is ever really too unfixable! Both women enjoy cycling and hope that by the end of the course, when they receive their recycled mountain bikes, they will have gained that extra confidence and knowledge of their bikes to start cycling more often.

For Claire, anxiety has transitioned into confidence. “The project has helped me so much, I cannot thank them enough. It’s just fantastic really! I love everything about coming down here… I’m now an independent traveller. I get the bus on my own and this has really boosted my feeling of self-independence, and I hope that when I finish the course I’ll ride even more in my spare time – maybe when it’s a little warmer though!”

If you or someone you know would like to sign-up for the next 12-week course starting January 2019, please get in touch with Positive People’s Rachel Elford on 07741 729 969


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