Sport has the power to change people’s lives. This could be through improving our physical and mental health, expanding our skills or improving our communities through social inclusion.
Scottish Cycling have been working hard to embed this philosophy in their work, enabling them to respond to the growing interest in cycling since the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic began.
Accessible to all
Mental health and wellbeing and isolation issues are becoming more prevalent and Scottish Cycling, as well some of their clubs, are putting people at the heart of their thinking to ensure a sustainable future. Having spent time exploring their ‘why’, Scottish Cycling have understood that making cycling accessible to everyone is at the root of what they can do.
James Bracher, Scottish Cycling club development manager, said: “The Changing Lives approach has really focused our minds on ‘Cycling For All’ and supporting clubs' equality and inclusion practices, as well as reflect internally on our own.
“We strive to make cycling available to everyone and through these difficult times, it has never been more important to get people active and feel more connected to their communities.”
James cites Falkirk Junior Bike Club as a club that is putting their members and community at the heart of their thinking.
At the start of lockdown, the club decided to pause all direct debits from its members, to help protect family incomes. To ensure they maintained a level of engagement that would help to retain members, the club developed the Falkirk Junior Bike Club passport, with support from Paths for All's Smarter Choices, Smarter Places Open Fund. This provided all 150 members with 16 weeks of cycling activities to keep them engaged while sessions were suspended.
Interest grew nationally and almost 2000 copies were delivered across Scotland free of charge. Now through investment from the Falkirk Council Transport Planning department, 13,000 young people in primary schools across Falkirk will benefit from the activity booklet, encouraging them to get more active.
The success of the booklet led to Scottish Cycling developing three separate activity books for kids, families and adults, containing a range of cycling skills, general cycling knowledge, bike maintenance and fun challenges to help readers continue to enjoy riding their bikes. As of December 2020, this has now reached over 23,000 people.
Fraser Johnston, club founder and Scottish Cycling club development manager, said: “In a challenging year we've had one overarching goal as a club - to keep our members and local community active and engaged.
"Looking to 2021, we want to build on this and maximise the opportunities available to us to have a positive impact on our local community, supporting the recovery from COVID-19.
“We are well aware of the need to diversify our membership and adapt our delivery approach to ensure we are more representative of our community and reach as many young people as possible.”
Falkirk Junior Bike Club have also partnered with Ordnance Survey to map their local area and explore who is not taking part in the sport, which will allow them to be more inclusive and welcoming in their approach.
Changing Lives Champions
For the past two years, James and Fraser have been a part of a new Changing Lives Champions programme, exploring the idea that sport can bring about positive changes beyond participation through wider social impact.
The group of 38 champions made up of professional staff from across local authority, trusts and governing bodies for sport have been embedding the changing lives approach within their organisations and the clubs and community organisations they support.
For 2020/2021 another 47 Champions from across the country have been selected and will be looking to share their learning and embed a changing lives mindset and approach in their work.
James said: “The Changing Lives Programme has fundamentally changed the way that we approach our roles in club development at Scottish Cycling - from the implied and assumed benefits that sport brings to people who take part, towards a more intentional and explicit use of sport as a vehicle to deliver positive impact on people’s lives.
“We have now embedded the changing lives philosophy into our Club Development Framework and throughout our Progression Programme, where we work closely with clubs who are looking to develop.”