Wheels for Wellbeing was founded in 2007 by Janet Paske. It was born out of an idea she got whilst walking through a park in Croydon. Janet approached Lambeth Accord, who provided office space initially free of charge, which helped get the organisation running without a huge start-up cost.
Wheels for Wellbeing supports disabled people to cycle. We run regular group sessions at the Sports Arena in Croydon, Ladywell Day Centre and the Herne Hill Velodrome. We also provide bespoke cycling session at chosen location, rent our adapted cycles to individuals, organise led rides and bring our adapted cycles to events across London.
We offer advice, training and consultancy on access, disability and equality issues and share our unique experience with other charities, businesses and local and national government. We also campaign to improve conditions to make everyday journeys possible for children and adults on any type of cycle.
Through our group sessions in South London, disabled people have the opportunity to experience the joy of cycling and its many benefits.
In 2015 Annual Participants’ Survey 97% of respondents rated our sessions as very good or excellent. Three top benefits of cycling with WfW mentioned in that survey were:
I am exercising in a way that is fun
I feel more confident
I am in a better mood.
In another survey ‘Cycling to Health’ (2016) carried out with help of health professionals as part of Team Up project we found out that more than 90% of sessions’ participants ‘has improved their general health’ as a result of cycling with WfW. In recent months we have been increasingly campaigning for the recognition and removal of barriers to disabled cyclists, culminating in the launch of our mini manifesto in July at the Herne Hill Velodrome. Speaking at the launch, WfW Director Isabelle Clement set out the organisation’s goals including recognition of cycles as a mobility aid, improved infrastructure and better facilities including a ‘blue badge’ parking scheme for disabled cyclists.
We have already seen progress in these areas, with politicians referring to our campaigns in Parliament and an increased visibility of disabled cyclists in cycling policy and literature. Inclusive cycling is now firmly on the political agenda. With an increasing interest in our campaigns and a growing network of supporters, the year ahead is set to be an exciting one.
We are increasingly becoming the recognised voice of disabled cyclists.We raise awareness of issues they may have encountered or face. For example, one lady now uses a trike to get about her local area rather than her electrically powered mobility scooter. Some time ago, she was stopped along the South Bank by a PCSO as cycles are not permitted there any longer. With our support, this lady had challenged this incident with the police as well as raised awareness of this issue in the cycling community through magazine articles.
Wheels for Wellbeing chairs the London Disability Cycling Forum (LDCF) which campaigns and lobby’s for safer and more accessible cycling opportunities within London. The meetings are held quarterly.
The organisation now employs a director, fundraising and development officer, campaigns and policy officer community engagement officer senior administrator, three session managers and ten cycling instructors(all part time).
WfW will be celebrating 10 years in 2017! We’re planning to mark that anniversary with parties involving local communities and participants at the venues where we usually run inclusive cycling sessions, as well as by organising a conference on inclusive cycling.