Ginger and friends in Lowedges!

We’ve now had our second tribike, Ginger, up in Lowedges for just over three months so it seems a good time to tell you how we’re getting on. We are committed to a partnership approach here. We offer the ‘resource’ of volunteers and the bike, and take time to work with local people and organisations to find good ways and places to share cycling joy with people who are a little less mobile.

Our ‘Lowedges’ coordinator Chris lives nearby, and it has been really brilliant to have a regular, enthusiastic and reliable pilot who can get to know people well and be flexible in following up ideas. Our key partners in Lowedges are the extremely friendly and well connected Terminus Initiative and the incredible range of wellbeing and social activities they run has been a fantastic starting point.

Healthy ‘not just walking’ in Greenhill Park on Tuesdays.

Our first commitment was joining the Terminus Initiative’s Healthy Walks on Tuesday mornings in Greenhill Park. While the walk is taking place we hop-on-hop-off loops of the park, often giving up to ten people short rides. Greenhill Park is a popular place for local people to visit, so it’s also been a good way to get people used to seeing us out and about!

We have also supported different weekly activities, sometimes taking people out from the Terminus Initiative coffee morning, dropping into the Fun Palaces event at the community centre, and with some ‘ssshhhh’ plans for December.

Dressed warmly for a cycling adventure

One of the brilliant opportunities of working in Lowedges is that we can trial rides out picking up direct from people’s homes. This week we were introduced to a couple who live independently but are unable to get out much. They really enjoyed a ride in the autumn sunshine around Greenhill Park with Chris, and we certainly hope this option can become a bigger part of our Lowedges activities in 2022.

Heading out to the park from White Willows

There are fewer care homes in Lowedges compared to our Sharrow base, but through connections made by Age Better in Sheffield we have started weekly rides out with the White Willows SYHA residence in nearby Jordanthorpe. Rides out from here take in the amazing views from Graves Park and even fit in a sneaky coffee at the café!

Age Better ‘talking bench launch at Graves Park

We also took part in Age Better’s ‘talking bench’ event in Graves Park in September.

Suzanne getting the hang of Ginger with some obliging test passengers.

Chris is indeed superman (he only started volunteering with us as a pilot during lockdown!) but we are gradually building a team of pilots who are familiar with the Lowedges settings and routes, with about with about five of us covering various slots at the moment. It’s encouraging that we some S8 residents are approaching us to volunteer, here are Suzanne and Nigel having their first ‘Ginger’ taster before starting our formal (but fun!) training programme.

What’s next? As an organisation we aim to keep offering rides over winter (with a generous deployment of hats, scarves and a very warm blanket) as we know that with shorter and often gloomier days it really does lift the spirits to get out when you can, especially when the sun is shining. But of it does mean more weather cancellations which can be frustrating. So we will mostly keep steady with what we are doing until Easter-ish next year, and then really go for it with lots of springtime outings for many people from many different places and to all the different lovely local parks! If you have new partnerships or ideas to propose, or would like to volunteer in Lowedges, please do get in touch, we would love to hear from you!

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