An NHS Social Prescribing Cycling for Recovery initiative has been given the go-ahead to continue to run its weekly cycle group in Exeter until November. Organised by the Devon Community Forensic Team, part of Devon Partnership NHS Trust, the group which started in October last year, uses Ride On bikes to facilitate the cycle rides, and 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 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 individuals 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.
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,” says Chloe. “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 have 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.
“One of the bikes we purchased for one of our supported accommodation providers, where one person resides, has been used by this individual to cycle to work in the Exeter area. He says this has made a difference for him in that it is much quicker to get to work now.”
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 program 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.”
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.
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 Southwest 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.