I came up with the idea of Cycle Happy during the second lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic. Cycle Happy is a registered charity offering cycling activities to improve health and wellbeing. We can form a small but important part of a person’s wellbeing plan by offering support for people to enter the outdoors in a structured and safe way.
For me, cycling was an activity that was linked to my childhood, but I re-found my love for cycling aged 35 when I organised a sponsored cycle ride for cancer research. The 15 people who attended the 140-mile challenge cycle from the west cost to the east coast of the UK were varied in age and abilities. We were work colleagues but I did not know much about the person that sat behind the desk. Three days later, having endured sweat, laughs and tears, good times and bad, rain and sunshine, flat roads and hills, a bond was formed with all the people who started and finished.
The bicycle gives a reason to go outside, leave technology alone for a while, live in the moment and it just makes you feel a bit better. I wanted to capture and share this with Cycle Happy.
Setting up a new charity
During the pandemic, I undertook a pilot scheme with friends to test the idea. I spoke with doctors’ surgeries to see if this was something that they may refer people to. The feedback was positive. Setting up a charity has been a long and complicated process but we finally have a proposed launch date in August 2021. We have started applying for grants to allow the service to be at no cost to the end user.
Charity status has opened so many doors to professional organisations providing assistance for free, and I personally have increased confidence in people. It is so nice to do something for people that they appreciate and will make a real difference to people’s lives as we come out of the global pandemic, which has seen many of us sitting in the house, alone, staring at computer screens.
The development of a charitable organisation at any time is a difficult task, but trying to follow this process during a worldwide pandemic has had its challenges. I have had the support of so many good organisations, and individuals within those organisations, such as the Business and Innovation Centre in Sunderland, who painstakingly guided me through the whole process.
A great thank you to all the individuals involved. Now is the time to live in the moment and make a difference to our health and wellbeing.
Please pass on our details to your local GP practice and join the Cycle Happy revolution.
Steve Matthews is the founder of Cycle Happy.