Our Community Forensic Team has had the go ahead to continue to run its weekly cycle group in Exeter until November. The Cycling for Recovery initiative started in October last year and the group uses Ride On bikes to facilitate the cycle rides. The additional funding also now means they will have the support of a Ride On staff member or a volunteer once a month.
The Community Forensic Team work to support people who are being discharged from a secure hospital, to help them develop their independence and community living skills.
“We are planning to book some workshop sessions to offer bike maintenance training,” says Chloe Rosser, Senior Occupational Therapist. “We were only able to offer one of these during the first project unfortunately because of COVID-19 restrictions.
“We also hope to plan longer rides over the summer. We have welcomed a new individual and expect that in the upcoming months some people will progress on from our team and transfer to a local community mental health team, and we will have some new people who will be able to access the group.
"We’re also hoping to offer some additional sessions on an ad hoc basis in other areas, such as Dawlish.”
Initially, the Cycling for Recovery project was facilitated by Chloe and two colleagues, however they now have a team of core members to help facilitate the group. This has been a great opportunity for staff to engage with each person in a shared interest, exploring different cycle routes.
Chloe continues: "The social prescribing cycle group is having a positive influence on the people who use our service. “Their confidence, communication skills and overall fitness has improved. One individual has also reported that their confidence using public transport has improved because of regularly using the bus to make their way independently to the group.
"You can clearly see the sense of achievement when we get back to the yard after the ride; they enjoy knowing how far we have cycled and have told us that they look forward to coming along to the group.
“Some individuals have taken more of a leadership role at times when leading some of the rides. This gives them a sense of purpose, again improving their confidence and interpersonal skills.”
The Community Forensic Team has also purchased some bikes from Ride On which have been used on a few occasions by a staff member and an individual who is currently still in hospital. This has enabled the team to offer opportunities for people who now are unable to attend the group in Exeter. “We hope we can continue to offer such opportunities," adds Chloe.
Thanks to the cycle group, another individual gained confidence to approach Ride On to ask for more information about a voluntary role. He has recently started this temporary voluntary opportunity with the Bike Bank which takes place at the Ride on workshop.
Will Page, Head of Charity at Ride On – Cycling for All, said: “We’re really delighted that this partnership is developing so well, and to see the real improvements the people on the programme are making. I took the group out for a hilly ride last week and it was great to see how their fitness and confidence levels have improved so much over the last year. Both the NHS staff and participants deserve huge credit for keeping this going.”