Volunteer Awards 2019 Finalist – Sajida Somani

Sajida Somani taking a selfie
Sajida Somani gives endless encouragement and support to new riders
Sajida Somani is a finalist for the Exceptional Individual – Cycling Group category at the 2019 Cycling UK Volunteer Awards. She is a founding member of Balsall Heath Community Cycling Club

In 2016, Sajida Somani, after recently learning to ride, first proposed her idea for a cycle club based at the local mosque. After plenty of planning, recruiting members and trial rides, the Balsall Heath Community Cycle Club was officially launched in May 2017. Since then, the club has proved to be a great hit and is helping to get more people cycling.

One of the key reasons behind Balsall Heath CCC’s success is Sajida’s endless enthusiasm and support for newer riders. Providing a safe and supportive environment for people to improve their cycling confidence is one of the most effective ways to encourage more people to take part in club activities, as well as helping them to cycle more in their day-to-day life. This can be achieved by offering a variety of sessions tailored to differing needs such as women-only rides, along with recruiting ride leaders who have had a similar background in cycling.

As well as offering women-only led rides, Balsall Heath also works with local schools to deliver Bikeability sessions to give children the skills they need to get cycling safely. These are backed up with sessions for parents to help them support the new skills their children have gained.

In the true spirit of community, Balsall Heath CCC often works closely with other groups and organisations in the area. The club often co-ordinates and hosts maintenance sessions with Gear Up, a social enterprise that’s also been nominated for the Best Cycling Programme category in the 2019 Volunteer Awards.