Who We Are
BAB is a partnership of individuals and organisations working together to reduce isolation and loneliness among older people in Bristol.
About the project
Come on Board is a project run by All Aboard Watersports that’s aimed at supporting individual older people to feel less socially isolated by participating in group activities. Come On Board runs a variety of different activities across the city with their partners, one of which is Life Cycle UK.
Life Cycle UK run a ‘Cycle Buddy’ scheme for over 50s that pairs less confident beginner and intermediate cyclists with a more confident cyclist who can guide them and lead them to quiet cycle paths in their area. The trips vary according to the abilities of the participants and can range from a few short miles to much further afield.
Experiences from participants:
We spoke to two participants, Paul and Kate, and one ‘Buddy’, Jackie, about the Cycle Buddy Scheme.
Paul was reintroduced to the joys of cycling by his stepson. He decided to do some research into finding cycling groups he could attend. For Paul, the benefit of Life Cycle’s various rides (both the over 55 group ride and the buddy scheme), were that they were rides suitable for beginners. Many of the other groups Paul came across required participants to have a certain level of fitness, that Paul would have needed to build up to. Paul said, “These groups’ help you get your foot on the ladder to improve and move on, I can’t be thankful enough, mentally I’m much better and health wise I’ve had quite a transformation.”
Paul describes himself as being a ‘little bit autistic’ and whilst he is very happy with the company of his wife, he felt it was important to get out and socialise more following retirement. “It gets me out of the house. At my age you can get into a routine, this gets you out and physically it gives you another lease on life. It is good to meet people roughly my own age, doing something that we’re all interested in is a great benefit.” For Paul the rides have also given him the opportunity to help others by encouraging them on more difficult routes, which he believes has made him a more rounded person.
Kate found out about the Buddy Scheme after attending a group cycle ride that Jackie had led. The one-to-one sessions appealed to Kate because they provided a sociable way of getting out on her bike. Her favourite ride was a circular route to Chew Valley.
Kate says she is more confident on her bike now, which means she is more likely to go for a ride and she thinks this has led to her being fitter than she used to be.
Jackie has been volunteering in the Buddy Scheme since it first began, almost two years ago. Jackie said, “I thought it was a good local scheme to get involved in, helps people locally and encourages them to get on their bike without the pressure of official guides.”
Learning and impact:
One of the benefits of the scheme is how it is tailored to individual participants, which had a big impact in meeting the needs of older people. For Paul, looking at some of the other cycling sessions, a 30-mile cycle wasn’t something he was able to do when he first got on his bike. Instead, the scheme was able to offer him a short ride to begin with and then steadily built up his fitness and confidence on the bike.
Some difficulties the project has had have been reaching and engaging with participants, as most active participants have been referred to the buddy scheme through the over 55s group cycle rides, like Kate. Contact via social media and leafleting has achieved fewer sign ups. Kate, Paul and Jackie discussed this, and believed that current participants of the project would be willing to help promote the project by going round and leafleting areas. They have also helped to spread news of the project via word of mouth recommendations.
Life Cycle has wondered if potential participants were put off by the name ‘buddy’ and the implications it may have. They thought that some people may be worried about having to be friends with the buddy, whether it is ongoing, what if they don’t like them, when can they opt out without appearing to be rude etc. These worries may have put some people off the scheme.
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