Pedal power

Pedal power, Barking and Dagenham, Addaction, History of substance misuse, involvement with criminal justice system, 2017 , £ 9293

Addaction has worked with individuals with substance and alcohol addiction for the past 50 years. The group supports individuals to make positive behavioural changes in relation to dependency, related offending and mental health and wellbeing, thereby increasing their confidence, social engagement and skills development.

The project involves a number of cycling related activities, initially focused around learning basic cycle maintenance skills. Participants undertake a three session course, with the aim of gaining a Cytech level 1 qualification. This will provide them with the skills and knowledge for affordable bike ownership, including maintenance and basic repairs.

Qualified mechanics prepare reconditioned bikes for the participants to work on. The mechanics then deliver the courses teaching them skills such as puncture repair, adjusting and repairing breaks and simple bike building. As many participants have little to no prior knowledge of bike mechanics,  the mechanics are required to provide advice and training based on participants’ differing skill levels.

The Pedal Power project engages service users in Barking and Dagenham. Participants are able to ‘Earn a Bike’ through completing the course and demonstrating behavioural change in relation to the difficulties they face. Bikes are provided to participants on loan from the project for a period of six months. Where participants evidence behavioural change over that six month period, bikes are then transferred to their name on the Bike Register and they take on full ownership of the bike.

This opportunity to own a bike is an incentive for participants to engage fully in their recovery. It overcomes the economic barrier that many face in relation to bike ownership, along with the basic maintenance skills earned. In addition it provides social, health, and transport benefits to facilitate the changes they wish to make in their lives.

One participant struggling with social interaction has, as a result of being involved, become more able to interact in groups. This has allowed him to take part in group treatment and therapy delivered by Addaction, and so acted as a gateway to the recovery process. Another participant said of Beacontree Cycle Centre, which has partnered with Addaction in delivering the project, that it is the “Best bike shop I’ve been to… gave me knowledge, skills.”

Over the remainder of the summer the project will organise group bike rides for those who have completed the course and are on track to earning their own bike. In addition they will be encouraged to take part in externally organised group rides.

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