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How lockdown buddies beat the blues

Two male Cycle Buddies riding together in summer near a bridge and flowers

Covid-19 has forced vulnerable people to spend a lot of time at home, leaving them frightened to engage with the outside world and suffering from poor physical and mental health. Our Cycle Buddies project has supported those who would normally come on our group cycle rides - and a new group of people who wanted to ease the isolating effects of lockdown. We spoke to Simon, a Support Worker, who has referred several people into Cycle Buddies:

Mike and James’ stories

“Mike and James are long-time users of Life Cycle’s Inclusive Cycling services. Both have a learning disability, live alone and are at risk of social isolation. Before Covid-19, they used to enjoy going out with the Bike Minded and Over 55s cycling groups. Cycling had been good for their friendship and they often turned up to rides together. Sadly, the group rides couldn’t continue during the lockdown.

Lockdown saw Mike and James’s social activities reduced to practically nothing. They didn’t feel confident cycling alone, so they were forced to stop altogether. After signing up for the Cycle Buddies scheme, the rides became a vital part of their weeks once again. They were so glad that their Cycle Buddy, Harold was there to support them with an activity they love”.

Ricky’s story

“Before the first lockdown, Ricky hadn’t really thought about cycling. He had a cleaning job and other leisure activities that filled his week. When lockdown hit, he found himself with a lot of time on his hands, something that he found very hard. His partner broke up with him and it became more difficult to manage his Learning Disability and Asperger’s. His mental health began to go downhill.

He started to go for cycle rides when the weather was nice. He found this helped him. Often he would take the same route – he didn’t have the confidence to try different ones. Wanting to explore further afield and socialise safely outdoors, he applied to join the Cycle Buddies scheme. After having a few lessons with one of our instructors, he was matched with a friendly Cycle Buddy who lived nearby… 

Ricky enjoyed his first cycle ride so much he rung-up Simon, his support worker, as soon as he got home! He was delighted to explore new parts of Bristol. He also loved stopping halfway through to pick up a coffee and have a chat with his Buddy. He has plans to go out for more rides before Christmas”.

Thank you Cycle Buddies team!

Cycle Buddies is only possible thanks to our Project Coordinator, Julie and her wonderful team of volunteers. Julie has worked really hard to get the project up and running in record time, recruit and train volunteers and carefully match people together. Her team of volunteers have provided a life-changing service to people in their local communities during an incredibly difficult time. Most of our participants face a lot of barriers to getting cycling, but Julie and her team have helped overcome them. Thank you so much, everyone, for your hard work and dedication!

“Cycling during the lockdown saved my life” – Cycle Buddies service-user.

Huge thanks to Wesport, Solon Coronavirus Community Fund, Bristol Older People’s Forum, BUPA UK Foundation and The Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust for your support towards our Cycle Buddies project.

*All names have been changed to protect identity. The people pictured above are not featured in this article. Photo credit: Michael Dennis.

Click here to find out more about our Cycle Buddies scheme.