A column by Becky Cox of Swindon Cycle Campaign
This year Swindon Cycle Campaign delivered a programme of free training and support helping over 500 local people learn to cycle and improve their confidence in the saddle.
This was possible thanks to grant funding from the Together Fund, which aimed to help individuals and families most adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and cost of living crisis.
Since cutbacks to council services there has not been learn to cycle training available in Swindon for a number of years. Cycling provides freedom and independence of travel for both children and adults. It's low cost and can bring huge benefits to physical and mental health.
From April to September we organised four inclusive family learn to cycle and cycle confidence events at the traffic-free County Ground Athletics Track. Each event provided a free hub of support for anyone looking to get cycling. Over 100 local people attended each session and took part in free cycle training.
We set up ladies-only learn to cycle sessions with the Ittihad Institute in Swindon which engaged women from diverse communities, including asylum seekers and victims of trafficking. Sessions were run by female cycle instructors and volunteers, and the emphasis was a supportive and welcoming environment for all. Over 30 women learned to cycle or improved their skills.
Extra Children's Learn to Cycle Sessions were arranged following original sessions quickly became over subscribed. These helped over 150 children start cycling independently for the first time or improve their confidence in the saddle.
In addition to these we offered free 1:1 sessions and private group sessions with Lifecycle UK cycle trainers to cater for the needs of those with extra requirements, including children with additional needs and vulnerable adults. We delivered over 20 1:1 sessions and three private group sessions.
The sessions have received incredibly positive feedback and demand exceeds what we were able to deliver in the time frame. We are hoping to continue organising free cycle training sessions in 2024 and beyond, particularly with the opening of the Moredon Sports Hub in Spring. For the time being we are reliant on grant funding but we hope in the future to have a sustainable funding source to offer more regular cycle training sessions.
If you're interested in learn to cycle training or support with developing your confidence please follow Swindon Cycle Campaign on Eventbrite, where upcoming sessions will be available. You can also find us on Facebook or contact a volunteer via: swindoncyclecampaign@ outlook.com or 07508038670.
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