An initiative supported by Active Lancashire, Love to ride, Connecting East Lancashire and Lancashire County Council, has seen 170 bikes donated to NHS workers from Blackburn, Burnley, Blackpool, North West Ambulance Service and Morecambe Bay Hospital Trusts.
The programme, inspired by Active Lancashire's Cycle Recycle Scheme, which is part-funded by the ESF More Positive Together project, was developed following a number of refurbished bikes becoming available to distribute. The Bike Works & Cycles Recycled, two of the delivery partners on the Cycle Recycle Scheme, refurbished the bikes ready to distribute to key NHS front line workers during Covid-19.
Following initial conversations between The East Lancashire Hospital Trust and Love to Ride, the idea came to gift these bikes to NHS keyworkers who are currently working hard to save lives, providing them with a much safer mode of transport to and from work, as opposed to reduced public transport networks. The programme has since expanded beyond East Lancashire as a great number of enquiries were received across other districts in Lancashire.
The bikes donated came from Lancashire Waste Sites, members of the public and Lancashire Constabulary, with Active Lancashire and CEL also purchasing a number of brand new bikes to meet the increasing level of demand. Refurbished bikes had gone through the Cycle Recycle Scheme which sees bikes collected by The Bike Works and Cycles Recycled, they are then assessed and undergo safety checks to determine the level of suitability and repair work to a roadworthy condition. All bikes were repaired, cleaned, separated and sanitised in accordance with government guidelines and packed ready for delivery. The bikes were then collected from safe locations around Lancashire such as Cycle Roots Blackburn, Cycles Recycled Clitheroe, Winter Gardens Blackpool and North West Ambulance centre in Accrington.
Initially, there were 80 bikes available to donate to workers and Hospital Trusts’ Communications team sent out information regarding the bike offer to their staff to explore the level of interest, but word spread fast and Active Lancashire soon became inundated with enquiries from workers across the County through their website. There have now been a huge 170 bikes donated to NHS workers across Lancashire.
The innovative scheme not only provides a safe mode of transport for our frontline workers, but cycling carries a number of other benefits such as helping to prevent the decline of your immune system in the short and long term, boosting your mental health and reducing stress and anxiety – benefits that could all have a significant impact on the lives of NHS workers and indeed their patients during this extremely difficult time.
In addition to receiving the bike, the NHS staff members also have the opportunity to access a wider health and wellbeing support network developed by Active Lancashire, Love to ride, Connecting East Lancashire and Lancashire County Council. Each worker is also given a safety pack including a Helmet, Bike lock, high vis and lights meaning the bikes can be used 24/7.
Feedback from workers has been positive and the donations seem to have been very well received. Debra, a key worker from East Lancashire Hospital Trust commented on her new bike: “I’ve collected my bike and am absolutely delighted with it, so a great big thank you to all concerned! It’s such a wonderful scheme, especially in these uncertain times. To be able to feel free after working in PPE on hot wards is just marvellous!”
Prior to COVID-19, the Cycle Recycle Scheme was designed to provide residents in some of the most deprived areas of Lancashire with a recycled bike to help encourage them to become active, but also to provide wider benefits such as making them more mobile with the means to access employment opportunities. With the current pandemic having a huge impact on employment, enquiries from Lancashire residents have already started to rise and the scheme is likely to be of great significance in the coming weeks to support those who need it the most.
Cycle Recycle’s Project Lead, Calum Marsden, commented on the success of the NHS bike donation and plans for the future “On behalf of all the partnerships and the Active Lancashire team it has been a real privilege to support the Lancashire NHS front line staff to continue to save the lives of Lancashire residents by providing them with alternative transport to access work in this difficult time. A massive well done to everybody involved in this process, we were all working under restrictions and difficulties, this did not stop us from supporting our communities."
As some of the restrictions have now started to relax, we can continue to support communities and individuals who are unemployed or economically inactive to access support through our MPT project: https://www.activelancashire.org.uk/projects/more-positive-together.
Thank you to all the kind Lancashire residents who have donated their old bikes, they will go onto be used and support people back into employment.
If you have an old, unused bike you would like to donate, you can do so by completing the submission form access here: https://www.activelancashire.org.uk/donate-your-bike