Help break the Cycle of social isolation this winter

Social isolation can be as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, is linked to an increased risk of dementia, heart disease, anxiety and depression.

2020 has been hard for everyone, especially for those who have had to face these dark months alone. Which is why we need your donations to continue our vital work and continue to support our community clubs, projects and activities. Your generosity can make such a difference to all those people suffering social isolation.

Cycling UK’s community cycling clubs, projects and activities provide support, alternatives to public transport, and tackle social isolation. They help people like Narinder, an intensive care nurse who lives alone in Walsall. During the pandemic, it has taken a lot of extra work to keep over 150 community clubs and individual projects running, along with all our charitable and campaigning work across the whole of the UK . But the results have been more than worth it.

Naheed's story
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Community Cycle Clubs
Supporting people through cycling

Cycling UK’s community interventions are helping people to provide a little bit of normality in this tumultuous time.

1) In Edinburgh and the Lothians, Vie Velo is a club bringing together visually impaired and sighted cyclists to enjoy the thrill and camaraderie of tandem cycling. Established by Cycling UK, the group has continued riding where Covid guidance has allowed, providing a real boost to members both physically and socially. Online meet-ups have also kept people connected when riding wasn’t possible.

2) In South Yorkshire we work with the Recovery College which supports people with serious mental health issues when they’re discharged from hospital to integrate back into the community. We know that participants’ mental health has deteriorated further in lockdown, especially as so many participants are from a BAME background. We want to support them to stay on their bikes.

3) In Gosport, we support the community cycling club at the FirstLight Trust, where veterans of the armed forces and emergency services, some of whom suffer from PTSD, can socialise, talk and regain confidence.

It doesn’t stop there, these are just a few examples and with your help we would love to expand our activities and support to many more communities across the whole of the UK.

Narinder’s story

Narinder Kaur, from Walsall in the West Midlands, has been on the frontline as an Intensive Care Nurse since the pandemic struck. No stranger to grief, she lost her father two years ago but in part got over her loss thanks to the support of Cycling UK’s community work, where she learned how to cycle.

“If it wasn’t for Cycling UK helping me to learn how to ride a bike, I’m not sure how I would’ve coped after losing my dad,” says Narinder. “It came at the right time because I couldn’t stop thinking about my dad. But when I was learning to ride, I was having to focus on learning a new skill. It helped me move forward.”

Living alone and working in the Intensive Therapy Unit (ITU) has taken its toll on her at times, often leaving her with no outlet or break. “Physically I’ve been well,” she says. “As a nurse in ITU, it has been incredibly overwhelming and stressful. At times it was so hard, I was quite traumatised. When my colleagues and I were putting on PPE preparing to go on shift, we were just praying we would be okay, and we worried for our loved ones.”

However, one thing which has helped get her through all this has been the community she has found in her cycling group. “As a nurse, I’ve still been going out and seeing people during the lockdowns. But you want to leave work behind and talk about simple things. You need that connection where you can talk to others.”

Narinder’s story

Narinder Kaur, from Walsall in the West Midlands, has been on the frontline as an Intensive Care Nurse since the pandemic struck. No stranger to grief, she lost her father two years ago but in part got over her loss thanks to the support of Cycling UK’s community work, where she learned how to cycle.

“If it wasn’t for Cycling UK helping me to learn how to ride a bike, I’m not sure how I would’ve coped after losing my dad,” says Narinder. “It came at the right time because I couldn’t stop thinking about my dad. But when I was learning to ride, I was having to focus on learning a new skill. It helped me move forward.”

Living alone and working in the Intensive Therapy Unit (ITU) has taken its toll on her at times, often leaving her with no outlet or break. “Physically I’ve been well,” she says. “As a nurse in ITU, it has been incredibly overwhelming and stressful. At times it was so hard, I was quite traumatised. When my colleagues and I were putting on PPE preparing to go on shift, we were just praying we would be okay, and we worried for our loved ones.”

However, one thing which has helped get her through all this has been the community she has found in her cycling group. “As a nurse, I’ve still been going out and seeing people during the lockdowns. But you want to leave work behind and talk about simple things. You need that connection where you can talk to others.”

John and Paul

John Wilcocks and Paul McCann are both former servicemen, who have faced different challenges in recent times.

John is an ex-paratrooper who was medically discharged due to injury in 1978. Now 70, he was hit by the death of his daughter in April, which was made doubly hard by lockdown restrictions that prevented him visiting her in hospital or hold a proper funeral. Paul was in the Army from 1998 to 2006, serving in Bosnia, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and Iraq, and has been diagnosed with PTSD, greatly limiting his social life.

Both John and Paul have been helped by the FirstLight Trust, which supports ex forces and emergency service workers and provides community café hubs. Through CDO Sarah Cunnold, Cycling UK has helped to set up a community cycle club at the hub in Gosport, Hampshire, funding bikes and equipment and training.

“I started going to the hub because I heard it had great coffee, but then I got more and more involved in the activities, so it was great when they set up the cycling club,” says John. “Everyone is so sympathetic and kind, and when my daughter passed away they were very understanding. The group rides had to stop during lockdown, but they started doing one-to-one rides as soon as that was allowed so that we were still able to get out on the bikes.”

Paul has found the cycle club, and other outdoor hub activities such as allotment gardening, especially helpful. “With PTSD, I can’t go to crowded places like pubs because I just feel under threat and hypervigilant all the time. I essentially had no social life outside of my family, but at the club I am with people who have been through the same thing as me, so they understand and I don’t feel like I am being judged.”

John and Paul

John Wilcocks and Paul McCann are both former servicemen, who have faced different challenges in recent times.

John is an ex-paratrooper who was medically discharged due to injury in 1978. Now 70, he was hit by the death of his daughter in April, which was made doubly hard by lockdown restrictions that prevented him visiting her in hospital or hold a proper funeral. Paul was in the Army from 1998 to 2006, serving in Bosnia, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and Iraq, and has been diagnosed with PTSD, greatly limiting his social life.

Both John and Paul have been helped by the FirstLight Trust, which supports ex forces and emergency service workers and provides community café hubs. Through CDO Sarah Cunnold, Cycling UK has helped to set up a community cycle club at the hub in Gosport, Hampshire, funding bikes and equipment and training.

“I started going to the hub because I heard it had great coffee, but then I got more and more involved in the activities, so it was great when they set up the cycling club,” says John. “Everyone is so sympathetic and kind, and when my daughter passed away they were very understanding. The group rides had to stop during lockdown, but they started doing one-to-one rides as soon as that was allowed so that we were still able to get out on the bikes.”

Paul has found the cycle club, and other outdoor hub activities such as allotment gardening, especially helpful. “With PTSD, I can’t go to crowded places like pubs because I just feel under threat and hypervigilant all the time. I essentially had no social life outside of my family, but at the club I am with people who have been through the same thing as me, so they understand and I don’t feel like I am being judged.”

Sometimes you become vulnerable, because there’s no one else to talk to. When the cycling group gets together, it’s been absolutely amazing. The community cycling club is like family.
Narinder Kaur