Cycling Without Age: Portsmouth charity needs increase in funds by June to avoid closure

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A Hampshire charity that helps vulnerable people in the community needs to raise funds by June to avoid closure.

Cycling without Age, managed by the You Trust, offered taster rides at Eastney as they search for funds to secure their future, on Friday, May 17, 2024.Cycling without Age, managed by the You Trust, offered taster rides at Eastney as they search for funds to secure their future, on Friday, May 17, 2024.
Cycling without Age, managed by the You Trust, offered taster rides at Eastney as they search for funds to secure their future, on Friday, May 17, 2024. | Sarah Standing

Cycling Without Age Portsmouth and Hayling Island is currently fundraising as it looks to secure a sustainable long term future. The charity run by The You Trust in Portsmouth needs to raise £25,000 in just over a month in order to secure its short term future. The service helps vulnerable people in society get out and about by giving them rides in their trikes.

The Cycling Without Age story began in Denmark when Ole Kassow starting take nursing home residents on cycling trips around Copenhagen in 2012. It had a profound affect on the residents and it snowballed into a global movement which spread to over 50 countries. It started in Portsmouth and Hayling Island in 2019 before restarting in 2021 after covid put a stop to it. It is now facing a challenging financial future.

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Jenni Van Wijk, volunteer coordinator, has seen the benefits the scheme has had. She said: “We take people out on our trikes that would otherwise be socially isolated, lonely and have limited mobility.

“We do individual rides where people may have been referred by their social prescriber, or if they have left hospital and their practitioner might be concerned about their wellbeing, if they are lonely and stuck at home. The original roots of the movement is very much about accessing the elderly and helping people that cant get out on their own anymore.”

“When people go out on the ride they might be down initially but that changes when they get the wind in their hair and engage with the community, saying hello to passers by and seeing nature. There is also the added element of story telling with the pilots who chat to them, its a great way to bring a boost to individuals and groups in the community.”

Despite the positive impact it has had on the community, it is now facing a deadline to raise funds, otherwise it will be closed down. Jenni said: “So far we have been funded by short term grants and that is running out. We have got until the end of June where we will need to have pledged in £25,000 to keep the service running for the next year.

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“We are working closely with the senior management of The You Trust, and everyone that is interested in saving the service. It is all hands on deck and the response from the community since they have heard the service is at risk has been amazing.”

Volunteer pilot, Bob Pentland, takes Rose Waddington from Portchester, out for a ride.
Volunteer pilot, Bob Pentland, takes Rose Waddington from Portchester, out for a ride.
Volunteer pilot, Bob Pentland, takes Rose Waddington from Portchester, out for a ride. | Sarah Standing

Debbie Pentland has been a pilot (as they call their trike riders) since it first started in Portsmouth. She has seen first hand the good that scheme does for people. Debbie said: “We have one lady we take out regularly. She likes to go to the graveyard so that she can tend to her husband and her son’s grave.

“We pick her up from her house with her walking frame, all her gardening things, and we go up to the grave and help tend it with her. She couldn't go on her own. She cant walk far enough to get to the bus stop, even with her walker. With the trike it’s perfect, we can collect her straight from her house.”

Debbie is also on a fundraising mission herself, she runs a outdoor swimming group called Shivery Bites which is 170 strong. On Saturday, May 25, they will be have a fancy dress beach party to help raise funds for Cycling Without Age on Eastney Beach.

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The You Trust manages a number of services across the region, including Cycling Without Age. Karen Hobbs, the community services and business development manager for The You Trust, is determined to see the scheme survive and thrive.

Karen said: “This service is amazing, just in four months last year we took 300 people out. Those people were isolated and lonely, not accessing any services in the community and really struggling. It has been instrumental in getting people out and it takes the pressure off other organisations and the GPs.

“The You Trust is really keen to see this service continue and we have been humbled by how many people have come forward and donated. On the back of its success last year we want it to continue and get bigger and better. If we can get some long term investment it can be much more sustainable, we can plan more and be more proactive, and we can target more services. It would be great to get some local businesses involved in sponsoring us.”

Cycling Without Age has a donation page which can be found here.

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