Cycling for Recovery – NHS Social Prescribing

Ride On – Cycling for All has teamed up with the Devon Community Forensic Team, who are part of Devon Partnership NHS Trust, to offer social group outdoor physical activity for the people who use their service.

The Community Forensic Team work to support people who are being discharged from a secure hospital and to help them develop their independence and community living skills. Those attending the cycle group each week have all been discharged from hospital and are living in the community.  

Chloe Rosser and Amy Burdett, who are both Senior Occupational Therapists and Brendon Pollard, Peer Support Worker, and between four and six patients, come to Ride On once a week to borrow bikes and go for a ride along the riverside path and cycle trails, always stopping off somewhere for a coffee. Chloe, Amy, and Brendon plan the weekly agenda and co-ordinate who will be facilitating the group.

Before the coronavirus lockdowns, the Ride On team led the bike rides and the patients were also given bike maintenance tuition in the Ride On workshop.

“We work with men whose ages range from 24 – 60 – although they are mainly in the 25 – 35 age range – supporting them so that they can be discharged from hospital,” explains Chloe. “We help them find accommodation and peer support groups so they can rebuild their lives in the community.”

The cycling group is playing a massive part in rehabilitating the Community Forensic Team clients, who previously had no support. In fact, since the first coronavirus lockdown it’s become the highlight of the week for many, as gyms are closed and physical activity is reduced. Chloe and Brendon find that the cycling is a good way to motivate the patients to push themselves.

“They want to ride, and they are enjoying themselves,” adds Chloe. “And thanks to funding from Active Devon we have been able to buy essential equipment such as waterproofs, gloves and lights.

“Ride On has been extremely proactive: adapting bikes for us and performing risk assessments, as well as dealing with insurance for group rides and helping us access funding,” says Chloe, who was responsible for most of the pre-work and admin for the project.

“If it weren’t for Ride On we would not have been able to set up the group as our patients do not have their own bikes. The cycle group, along with other leisure activities that they enjoy, such as fishing, metal detecting and walking are all social experiences that enhance their recovery.”

Will Page, Head of Charity at Ride On, said, “We’re really enjoying working with the NHS and their patients on this project, and to clearly see the impact that it’s having on their lives. The happiness on the faces of the riders when they come back into our yard is a joy to see. So many people across Devon could benefit from discovering the freedom that cycling can bring; we would be very keen to help more projects like this get started.”

Notes for editors 

Ride On – Cycling for All is a local charity based at Exeter Quay that recycles unwanted bicycles and helps make cycling safe, enjoyable, and accessible to everyone. Ride On has a vision for a cleaner healthier and more active Exeter. The aim of Ride On is to get more people on affordable bikes, whilst offering education and training to keep them on the move, improve mental and physical health and wellbeing through cycling and contribute to a reduction in CO2 emissions.

[email protected] 

Ride On – Cycling for All is registered with the Charity Commission: No.1174055

The Devon Community Forensic Team is part of Devon Partnership NHS Trust which provides mental health and learning disability services across Devon, the wider South West and nationally.

The team was established in 2018, being one of three sites awarded contracts by NHS England to become pilot sites for new community forensic teams. The focus of the team during the pilot has been on accelerating the discharge of patients from secure inpatient services, with a focus on supporting transition, reintegration into the community and improving quality of life.

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