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We’ve been to meet the founder of Cycling Minds, Toby Price, to find out how this small organisation is supporting young adults with their mental health and wellbeing.

Cycling Minds is a not-for-profit community interest company founded in April 2022 by Toby Price and based in Hexham, Northumberland.

Before establishing the organisation Toby worked as a translator, but always had a passion for cycling. Toby has lived experience of mental ill-health and was motivated to set up Cycling Minds after noticing how cycling made an impact on his own wellbeing, as well as his desire to support his local community.

Toby explains:

“I wanted to help revive the local community by supporting young adults who may be out of education, unemployed or feeling isolated due to the rural nature of our county. I also wanted to contribute to the local economy by boosting cycling tourism and encouraging more people to come and enjoy everything Northumberland has to offer.”

Cycling Minds

The programme primarily supports young adults who live in Northumberland and may be feeling socially isolated or are struggling with their mental health. Cycling Minds supports people to learn new skills, connect with others and enjoy exercising in the outdoors, to boost their wellbeing and confidence.

Step On(e) guided rides

The Cycling Minds team offers an 8-week guided ride programme, in which volunteers take beneficiaries out on bike rides around the local area, with breaks to visit cultural and historical sites of interest.

To make this programme accessible for people with health-related needs, Cycling Minds provides e-bikes that beneficiaries can use.

The guided rides programme aims to boost participants’ confidence to the point that they begin cycling alone or join Cycling Minds on its club rides.

Persevere to succeed workplace programme

Through its 12-week employability and training programme, Cycling Minds introduces beneficiaries to The Link Community Cycle Hub, where they’re able to shadow a volunteer to learn about bike mechanics and customer service. Through this fantastic programme, beneficiaries learn new skills, receive training and can even work towards an accreditation.

The aim is to build people’s confidence and self-belief so they can get involved with Cycling Minds as a volunteer, employee or move on to find work opportunities elsewhere in the cycling world.

The impact

Despite only starting in the spring, Cycling Minds is already having a positive impact on both the individual participants it supports, as well as the local community.

Toby explains:

“The impact Cycling Minds has is really two-fold; it makes a difference to both the individual and the community.

Due to the rural nature of our communities and the lack of provision for young adults, it’s very easy for people to feel isolated. We’ve created a base in Hexham and hope to be able to get into some of the surrounding smaller rural communities to help show young adults that there’s more out there for them and make them feel less isolated.

It’s about engaging with people and helping them learn new skills to improve their self-confidence. They may leave us with a newfound passion for cycling, or for the environment around us, all of which they can take forward with them into the next stage of their lives.

We’re also making a difference in the wider community. For instance, we’re currently involved in trying to improve cycling routes in the local area to help people cycle more freely and safely. Not only will this allow people to improve their physical and mental health, it also connects communities across the county, opening up social and employment opportunities for people without cars or access to public transport.”

Cycling Minds is also supporting other organisations in the social prescribing sphere, which it hopes to play an increasingly important role in. For example, it has linked up with Northumberland Recovery College and has so far delivered numerous guided rides and bike maintenance classes for the College’s students.

We’re proud to lead Northumberland Recovery College, which runs free workshops, courses, and activities for adults in Northumberland who are looking to improve their wellbeing and meet new people.

Northumberland VCSE Mental Health Alliance

Cycling Minds is part funded through the VCSE Mental Health Alliance as part of the community mental health transformation for Northumberland.

We’re proud to be the lead partner for the VCSE Mental Health Alliance and look forward to sharing more about the fantastic programmes being offered, such as Northern Butterflies, DigitalMe and project Aasha.

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