The impact of volunteering for Cycling UK

Outstanding volunteers like Sue Booth of Chester Fabulous Ladies (above) are celebrated during Volunteers' Week 1-7 June
As Volunteers' Week 2023 comes to an end, we are so proud of all of the time, energy and passion our volunteer network put into their roles in supporting their local communities. Cycling UK's head of volunteering, Alex Cuppleditch discusses their impact on our mission to enable millions more people in the UK to cycle

We have more than 8,200 volunteers running thousands of rides and undertaking hundreds of tasks and campaign actions all around the UK: these are all directly benefiting the cycling community and making the world better by bike. 

Two of our greatest assets are our volunteers and groups; they are integral to our vision and always work at the heart of each community around the UK. It’s why we’re investing time in their training and also exploring opportunities to make sure Cycling UK as a charity can represent the diversity we want to see in cycling. All this is helping us to be the resilient, representative and responsive organisation needed to make a positive difference in today’s society.  

I am hugely grateful to the many dedicated volunteers who support the work of Cycling UK in so many big and small ways

Sarah Mitchell, chief executive officer, Cycling UK

Chief executive officer Sarah Mitchell says: "I am hugely grateful to the many dedicated volunteers who support the work of Cycling UK in so many big and small ways - campaigning, running our local clubs, leading health walks in Scotland, organising events, fundraising, acting as trustees - the list goes on. Particular thanks go to our long-standing volunteers who have dedicated many years, often decades, to Cycling UK's endeavours. All of this makes a huge difference to getting more people cycling and showing the huge benefits riding bikes can bring to society."

Because we place tremendous value on our volunteer network, we have been assessing our current training options and reviewing their overall direction. We have invested in a training platform to establish role-specific pathways for our direct volunteers. We have also devised and delivered a bespoke ride leader training course for our member groups, which will enable consistency and compliance within our groups' delivery on the ground. 

Despite the current social and environmental factors, including the tail-end of the coronavirus pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis, our overall volunteer numbers have still increased this year. We believe that this is down to our dedicated group volunteers and alternative micro-volunteering opportunities, as well as online-based roles such as Facebook and forum moderating that you can do at your own pace and within the comfort of your own home.

What do our Cycling UK volunteers do? 

Cycling UK's 8281 wonderful volunteers come from member groups (3339), affiliate groups (4015), and direct volunteering (927).

  • Service delivery: people across the Cycling UK group network are delivering cycling and walking activities, including publicly-funded roles, which are valued for their locality, quality, accessibility, value for money and specialist nature. 
  • Innovation: our newly-recruited safeguarding and diversity and inclusion officers are providing an inclusive space for people who wish to change society by meeting local group needs, serving new communities, and addressing problems in new ways. 
  • Advocacy: our Cycle Advocacy Network volunteers are driven by a mix of passion and lived experience, and are a huge contributor to our success as a charity.  
  • Expression and leadership development: our trustees come together to express, guide and share their interests, values and identities. For many, this provides a vehicle for skills and leadership development, as well as the self-fulfilment of contributing towards cycling provision.  
  • Community building: our locally-funded project volunteers create relationships that foster trust and reciprocity, which are essential for community-building, behaviour change and economic growth. 

How do we support our volunteers? 

  • we have heavily invested in our volunteer training and development; this includes creating online ride leader training for our member groups and a new training platform for our direct volunteers
  • we provide quarterly webinars 'Time with Tom' hosted by our groups officer Tom Page. These webinars provide a space for growth and obtaining knowledge around topics related to their roles within cycling groups
  • we offer a reward and recognition programme, Going the Extra Mile, to incentivise and recognise the achievements and endeavours of volunteers with badges, certificates and thank you letters. Outstanding individuals and groups may have their achievements highlighted in our annual Volunteer Awards and a place on the Cycling UK Roll of Honour
  • our volunteers are also supported by the knowledge that Cycling UK’s policies and procedures underpin their activities, and they are fully insured against their own liability, as long as they are registered with us

The value of volunteering  

When you consider the hours spent volunteering, whether doing a quick micro task, such as sharing some content, groups running rides throughout the UK, our projects that are supported and led in Scotland, photographs taken, moderators looking after Facebook groups and relevant forums, or campaigners speaking on behalf of Cycling UK, this adds up to an incredible amount of value for our organisation.

Although their impact in terms of wellbeing to individuals and the benefits to wider society are immeasurable, the total monetary value of our volunteer network is an amazing £2.6 million! We want to say a HUGE thanks and express our deepest gratitude for all of their contributions this year, particularly those incredible groups, individuals, campaigners and event organisers who were nominated for our Volunteer Awards 2023. Congratulations and thanks to all our other volunteers for their hard work throughout the year.

Get involved

Do you know outstanding volunteers who should be thanked and recognised not just during Volunteers' Week but all year round? Use some of our top tips to thank them in a meaningful way