Cycling UK Christmas appeal targets loneliness

Community Cycle Clubs such as this one in Birmingham provide an opportunity to meet new people and stay active. Photograph: Wayne Fox
Rob Kingston's picture

Cycling UK Christmas appeal targets loneliness

National cycling charity is asking for help to break the cycle of social isolation
  • Social isolation has soared during the Covid-19 pandemic 
  • Cycling UK seeks donations to help continue its work in providing valuable support and companionship to isolated people 
  • Intensive-care nurse Narinder Kaur tells how Cycling UK’s community work has helped overcome loss and make new friendships 

Cycling UK has launched its Christmas fundraising appeal to Help Break the Cycle of social isolation. The appeal focuses on the vital work done by the charity’s projects, including Community Cycle Clubs, to tackle loneliness. 

Recently published government figures show that 8% of adults in the UK – 4.2 million people – are “always or often lonely”, and 5% (2.6 million) had not left their home for any reason in seven days. Social isolation can not only lead to anxiety and depression but also increase the risk of dementia and heart disease. The effects of loneliness on long-term health have been compared to those of smoking 15 cigarettes a day. 

Cycling UK’s Community Cycle Clubs provide valuable support and companionship for people from all walks of life, and their valuable work has continued throughout the pandemic, subject to restrictions on group events. However, with the charity’s income affected by the pandemic, Cycling UK is asking for donations to help with its vital work. For example: 

  • £15 could pay for PPE to ensure that bikes can be used safely by club members 
  • £50 could provide a second-hand bike, 
  • £125 could train a volunteer to lead group rides.  

Donations can be made via the appeal homepage.

One of those who has been helped by Cycling UK’s work is Narinder Kaur, an intensive-care nurse from Walsall in the West Midlands. Joining Walsall Arboretum Community Cycle Club and learning to ride a bike helped her recover from the grief of her father’s death in 2018, and during the pandemic cycling has continued to play a vital role for Narinder, who lives alone. “If it wasn’t for Cycling UK helping me to learn how to ride a bike, I’m not sure how I would have coped after losing my dad,”

Narinder says. “As a nurse… you want to leave work behind and talk about simple things. You need that connection where you can talk to others. When the cycling group gets together, it’s been absolutely amazing. The Community Cycle Club is like family.” 

Sarah Mitchell, Cycling UK’s chief executive, said: “Loneliness and social isolation have a huge impact on people’s health, both mental and physical, and the Covid-19 pandemic has caused a record number of people to feel isolated this year. 

"Cycling is a sociable activity and a great way to tackle loneliness, and our Community Cycle Clubs provide a valuable service to people who would otherwise lack social contact. Our staff and volunteers have worked tirelessly to keep more than 150 Community Cycle Clubs and other projects active during the pandemic, and we need your generosity this Christmas to continue to support them and all our charitable work.” 

The appeal continues through December, with more individuals sharing their stories of how Cycling UK has helped them with social isolation. On Friday December 18 at 7pm, Cycling UK is hosting the Break the Cycle Christmas Games, a fun online quiz in aid of the appeal, featuring special guests including Olympic champion Katie Archibald, sports journalist and presenter Ned Boulting, TV presenter Orla Chennaoui, cycling commentator and ex-pro Matt Stevens, and TV presenter and journalist Rebecca Charlton

Contact information 

For more information, please contact the national Cycling UK press office.

Due to the restrictions caused by the coronavirus outbreak, currently the main press office number (01483 238 315) is not being monitored. If you would like to speak to a member of the press office during working hours (0900 - 1700) please call Rob Kingston on 07880 424 912 or email publicity@cyclinguk.org. Out of hours, call 07786 320 713.  

Notes to editors 
  1. Cycling UK, the national cycling charity, inspires and helps people to cycle and keep cycling, whatever kind of cycling they do or would like to do. More than a century’s experience tells us that cycling is more than useful transport; it makes you feel good, gives you a sense of freedom and creates a better environment for everyone.  
  2. Community Cycle Clubs are at the heart of Cycling UK’s goal to bring about sustained change and encourage 1 million more people to cycle. The clubs run in all sorts of places including with older people’s groups, youth groups, workplaces, refugee charities, mosques and veterans’ groups, and have engaged with more than 50,000 people. Search for your nearest club
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Cycling UK continues to support the UK to cycle
This remains true during this difficult period with the ongoing threat of coronavirus Covid-19