Top cycling groups in the North East celebrate award win
Two community cycle groups from North East England have won awards from Cycling UK, the national cycling charity, for their work helping people to start cycling. Cycling Minds supports young people with mental health issues and Linskill Riders helps people over 50 to cycle for health and wellbeing.
Cycling Minds in Hexham, Northumberland provides guided e-bike rides and training to young people to improve their mental and physical health and boost their employability. The group won Most Inspiring Group or Club in Cycling UK’s Going the Extra Mile Volunteer Awards 2023.
Linskill Riders is a community cycling club in North Shields, Tyne and Wear, which runs led rides as well as skills and confidence sessions, all aimed at supporting the health and wellbeing of local people. Volunteer Kim Suleman won the Most Inspiring Individual award for her work leading rides and supporting new members of the group.
Both groups are supported by Cycling UK’s Community Cycle Clubs programme, which aims to connect people to their community through cycling to reduce isolation, improve health and wellbeing, develop skills, or just have fun.
Poppy Soetens-Hall, Community Cycle Clubs programme manager at Cycling UK, said:
“Cycling Minds have been doing outstanding work which we have been thrilled to support since 2022. The young people who Cycling Minds support have told us how their activities have provided a safe and social space to increase confidence, learn new skills and make friends. It is inspiring to see how they are empowering the next generation of cyclists and bike mechanics whilst being community and mental health champions.
“Linskill Riders are a cornerstone of the Community Cycle Club North East and Big Bike Revival programmes. They run cycle rides, bike maintenance and cycle skills sessions. Their volunteers do incredible work – many people have gone from learning to ride to becoming regular cyclists thanks to them and they go above and beyond to support their members but also other community groups who are just getting started.”
Both groups were presented with certificates of appreciation at an event organised by Cycling UK’s volunteering team on Wednesday 19 July at the Cycle Hub in Newcastle.
Toby Price is the founder of Cycling Minds, setting up The Link Community Cycle Hub in April 2022 as a base for the charitable organisation.
He said: “Our aim is to enable more people to cycle or to cycle more – we know that many people are keen but lack confidence, so we have run free activities through Cycling UK’s Big Bike Revival programme and our own community work, including led rides.
“We have seen first-hand the impact we can have – every single person we have taken on our e-bikes comes back with a massive smile on their face and a desire to ride more, even those who are very unfit or have mental health problems.
“We’ve also started installing public bike repair stations, so people can carry out basic repairs on their bikes. The first three are now in the ground in the centre of Corbridge, at Tyne Green Country Park in Hexham and National Cycle Route 72 in Wylam. Another will soon be installed in Allendale.”
Although Cycling Minds has had to temporarily close The Link due to funding issues and a staff shortage, Toby hopes the centre will be back up and running soon. In the meantime, their rides programme continues due to popular demand, and he hopes to run some Big Bike Revival events soon too.
Lucy Fenwick, community development officer at Linskill and North Tyneside Community Development Trust, which runs Linskill Riders, said:
“It was fantastic to meet up with Cycling Minds to share and celebrate what we are both achieving in the local area. We’re grateful to Cycling UK for their support with funding and expertise as we’re running the Big Bike Revival this summer. It’s going well so far with quite a lot of events happening in August which people can find out about on our Facebook page.
“Kim deserved the award as she is a very inspiring and motivated volunteer, who works hard in her role as a group leader. Despite only starting to cycle two years ago, and having to live with spinal injuries, she qualified as a ride leader last year and now helps organise rides as well as leading them. She goes out of her way to support new members, has a great sense of humour and plays a big part in keeping the group together.”