Cycling for mental and emotional health

Jacqui Wilcox, who now works part time as a cycling instructor
Some things we do are life changing. For Jacqui Wilcox, taking part in a project called Bike Minded was exactly that.

After experiencing mental illness, which forced her to take a year off work, Jacqui was out with her family when they happened to come across a Dr Bike session at the Create Centre in Bristol.

She picked up a card advertising Bike Minded rides and got in touch. She started taking part in the group cycle rides in summer 2010 and it has fuelled a real love of cycling.

Building self-esteem is often difficult for people with mental and emotional health issues. The project encourages social interaction and helps participants gain confidence.

Jacqui Wilcox

Jacqui says that cycling calmed her busy mind and eventually led to her getting part-time work. She says: "I had thought I would never work again." Life Cycle advertised a vacancy for a cycle instructor so Jacqui went for an interview and got the job.

"I now work freelance for Life Cycle, teaching school groups and 1-1 sessions with adults," Jacqui says. "I have no doubt that the project has helped me return to work after over a year off. I now teach Bike Minded participants. It feels great that I can now support other people in the project.”

Jacqui also learnt maintenance skills through Life Cycle and it helped her confidence enormously. “One of the reasons holding me back from cycling was the fear of getting a puncture.” Life Cycle can sometimes help participants to buy a refurbished bike at a low cost, and offer subsidised one-to-one cycling lessons and maintenance training.

Bike Minded is a project run in Bristol by Life Cycle UK.