So everyone knows that riding your bike makes you more awesome than the rest of the population…fact.
Well, for the past 12 years Sole Cycling has been spreading that message of joy in communities up and down the country with some of our amazing partners.
A few years back we were given a national award by Network Rail for our ‘Hands On’ programme, working with young people in estates in some of the countries poorest areas, giving young people who don’t have many opportunities to engage in sport and physical activity the chance to ride their bikes, get mucky learning to fix their steeds and gain some valuable life skills such as teamwork, leadership and communication (or TLC as we like to call it).
This year we’ve decided to go back to our roots and deliver where it all started, back home in Bristol and North Somerset. We’ve been delivering some amazing work with Avon and Somerset Police, who have funded us and supported us with staff, to work in schools to deliver our Healthy Lifestyles workshops, helping pupils and teachers make better choices when it comes to what they eat, what they drink and how much activity to do each day to help them concentrate better and ultimately be more successful at exams and life generally.
They have also worked with us to deliver more of our amazing outreach programmes.
And so it is that for the last 6 weeks we have been in Hartcliffe after school working with a group of 12 young men who have been identified as offenders, or at risk of offending by the local Beat Team.
We have talked to them, fed them and taught them to fix up bikes, then worked with them outside, riding, racing and learning positive ways to engage with each other and the local community.
At the end of the course the riders who have attended each week (subject to their behaviour being good all week) and showed commitment, good behaviour and effort will be rewarded with a bike to keep from those that we have been working on.
For many, this will make a real change in their lives, meaning they’ll be able to ride to school, or attend job interviews, or simply be able to explore other parts of the city they may not have visited before.
We are proud to say that the course is having a positive effect, with anti-Social behaviour being reduced in the targeted area around the shops and flats and behaviour in school greatly improving. During our weekly discussion we also heard from one young man who attends a Pupil Referral Unit, who used his participation in the course and his new skills to secure himself work experience at a local bike project…fantastic news.
A huge thanks must go to Avon and Somerset Police for their support in bringing the course together and their hard work on the nights, talking to the riders and their parents and making real strides to be able to talk to these guys outside of the course.
A huge thanks too to the local vicar and his wife for letting us use their building and for their unwavering patience in the face of 12 greasy bikes and 24 greasy hands on their pews every week!
Also a big thanks to Morrisons for supplying us with food for the events. These guys may not always get access to quality food after school, so being able to feed them really makes a huge difference to them and the quality of their learning for the 3 hour sessions.
We are now planning more of these projects across the city and beyond and look forward to helping many more young people to start their journeys soon…