An independent report by the University of Brighton and University of Surrey has confirmed what project workers at charity Life Cycle UK have long known – cycling is good for mental well-being.
Life Cycle UK’s “Bike Minded” project offers community based support to help individuals experiencing mental health issues to get on a bike and improve their well-being through cycling. After supporting over 200 individuals, the scheme has now been hailed as an “essential mental health service” that offers “exceptional social return on investment” by an independent academic study.
The report commends the Bike Minded service for providing “affordable access to cycling equipment and cycling groups and activities which offer a sense of purpose and self-worth”. And stated that Bike Minded: “tackles issues of social isolation amongst [those] in the Bristol region living with mental illness and a practical complementary service to statutory mental health services which has the potential to enable service users to gain a sense of agency and control on their lives and identities.”
Mental illness can be hugely isolating and people can struggle to make positive social connections. Bike Minded helps anyone in Bristol experiencing mental health issues to get a bicycle and gain the confidence to use it as a way to get out, meet new people and re-connect with society. The project also offers an annual programme of 40 group cycle rides – free to attend – that give socially isolated people a reason to get out, explore the city and socialise. The rides offer exercise and a chance to explore nature corridors and green spaces around the city surrounded by fresh air, greenery and bird song.
Feedback from a participant survey showed that 100% of respondees say the scheme has a positive effect on their mental wellbeing and participants cycled for an average of 192 minutes per week after joining Bike Minded – more than enough, the study found, to positively influence their wellbeing.
Poppy Brett, CEO of Life Cycle commented:
“Bike Minded receives no statutory funding and is dependent on the generous support of charitable funders. The report by the University of Brighton and Surrey recommends an expansion of the project and better links with statutory services. Our first objective is to secure funding beyond September 2016, but we very much hope to improve our links with the Local authority and NHS over the coming years so we can offer our services to many more people in Bristol experiencing mental health issues. “
Bike Minded, Project Manager, Heather Pugh said:
“We offer a range of services through Bike Minded including: access to a low cost bike; cycle skills training to ensure people feel confident about riding a bike; social rides at various levels to take into account different levels of ability and fitness; bike maintenance tuition and opportunities to be part of running the group through project socials. People who are interested in finding out more about joining Bike Minded should contact me on 0117 353 4580.”