Cycling for suicide prevention in Liverpool

Cyclists gather for World Suicide Prevention Day
Cyclists gather for World Suicide Prevention Day
Cyclists gather for World Suicide Prevention Day

Cycling for suicide prevention in Liverpool

On 9 September, Cycling UK Development Officer Chris Alston and Trustee Janet Atherton worked in partnership with Spider Project to host the annual World Suicide Prevention Day Cycle Around the Wirral. They were joined by around 80 cyclists on a 35-mile route around the Wirral Circular Trail to help raise awareness of suicide prevention.

Most people are now aware about the benefits cycling has on physical health, but it also has a positive impact on mental wellbeing. Cycling is a low-cost activity that enables people to exercise outdoors on a regular basis, to get where they need to go, and can play a key part of any recovery programme aimed at combating depression, anxiety and stress, substance misuse and more.  

On World Suicide Prevention Day, it was great for Cycling UK to work alongside Spider Project and see so many new and experienced cyclists joining forces to spread the message that ‘it’s OK to not be OK’. The turnout, despite the poor weather, was double that of the previous year, proving that people want to reach out to others who may be in need of support. In 2017, more than 5,800 people lost their lives to suicide in the UK, according to the charity Samaritans.

Preparing to set off

The circular route started and finished at Woodside Ferry Terminal, with the relatively flat terrain following the scenic trails and coastal paths through Eastham Country Park, Thurstaston, West Kirby and New Brighton. Participants included staff and service users from a number of charities and social enterprises including the Spider Project, Wirral Ways to Recovery, PAPYRUS and more, as well as members of the public. Everyone had the same aim: to raise awareness of mental health issues, suicide prevention and how cycling can help people.

We know all too well the damage to families, individuals and wider communities affected by suicide can have. Our aim for the ride is to let people see that it’s ok to talk about issues such as suicide.

Mel Bowen, Spider Project

Mel Bowen from Spider Project said: “As an organisation, Spider Project seeks to help individuals build their own resilience, mental health and physical wellbeing. Those individuals then go on to create positive communities. What better way to achieve our aims than to bring a large group of people and organisations together, and get out and about for a day of cycling.

“It was an absolutely brilliant day with so many great partner organisations getting involved under the banner of World Suicide Prevention Day 2018. Every day, our staff work with people suffering from poor mental health, isolation and loneliness. We know all too well the damage to families, individuals and wider communities affected by suicide can have. Our aim for the ride is to let people see that it’s ok to talk about issues such as suicide.

“This was our third year of running the event and every year we see ride numbers grow. But most importantly, we see people talking and connecting and that has to be worth sustaining. So here's to next year and many more to come!”

Taking a break from the rain

Cycling UK affiliate group Eastham Community Cycle Hub hosted the first refreshment stop, taking the opportunity to promote the outstanding work they do recycling bikes and delivering inclusive cycling sessions for people with a variety of disabilities.

Despite the rain and muddy conditions, everyone carried on,swapping stories and sharing their experiences. It was a great demonstration of the positive impact that cycling and other forms of physical activity can have on mental wellbeing and social inclusion.

The next step is for Cycling UK to work in partnership with Spider Project and Wirral Ways to Recovery to enhance their provision of cycling activities through delivery of ride leader and maintenance training. Their joint venture will be known as Wirral on Wheels, offering regular bike rides and maintenance sessions to the local community.

Sponsored Advert
Sponsored Advert
Sponsored Advert
Sponsored Advert
Sponsored Advert
Join Cycling UK to help us change lives and communities through cycling
Join Cycling UK to help us change lives and communities through cycling
Membership gives you peace of mind insurance, discounts in cycle shops, rides & routes – for just £3.75 a month!