Cycling Scheme Steers Tenants in the Right Direction

A Carlisle cycling scheme has given social housing residents a new sense of direction after helping them to be come qualified bike mechanics.

The ‘On Yer Bike’ programme, which was set up by Impact Housing, organised the training for a group of residents after receiving a grant from local regeneration group, Cumbria Housing Partners. As bicycle mechanics and future trail leaders, the new recruits will help run bike trips, community events and fix bicycles, as well as pass on their skills to attendees.

On Yer Bike was created by Impact in 2007 as a way of teaching important life skills to tenants from a variety of backgrounds. By giving its residents free access to bicycles and setting up regular races, trips and events, it also encourages greater interaction among communities and promotes independence, health and wellbeing.

Since its launch in 2007, On Yer Bike has grown in numbers with over 4,000 people using the scheme and as such, its need for volunteers to help run the programme has increased. Damien Morris, resident involvement coordinator at Impact Housing, explains: “The programme has been hugely popular, so when we needed to recruit extra pairs of hands to run our events and trips, we thought it was a great opportunity for some of our residents to develop further skills.

“To train these residents, we applied for a grant from Cumbria Housing Partners and received over £5,000 which has helped us get four of our residents – including three who were previously homeless – qualified as bicycle mechanics with future training planned to qualify them to become cycle trail leaders.”

Since completing their training in aspects such as bike mechanics, the four volunteers have become heavily involved with the running of the programme and are now looking to take over its day-to-day management. “On Yer Bike has really opened up new opportunities to our volunteers and given them some fantastic skills,” added Damien. “We’re really grateful for the funding from Cumbria Housing Partners which has made this possible.”

Carlisle-based Cumbria Housing Partners, which offers procurement services for social housing providers like Impact, gave £5,000 towards the scheme as part of its Sense of Place fund that finances community-based projects in the areas in which it works with housing providers.

Cumbria Housing Partners works with seven social housing landlords across Cumbria and uses a volume procurement approach to achieve cost savings on the materials and services needed to build and maintain properties. A proportion of the savings made by Cumbria Housing Partners through this method are then fed into the Sense of Place fund.

Concluding, Lesley Dixon, project manager at Cumbria Housing Partners, said: “On Yer Bike is a great scheme for the area – not only in terms of giving marginalised people a new chance in life, but also in promoting health and wellbeing to local people and helping communities learn and have fun together. It’s a fantastic programme to be part of.”