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Jul 18, 2016

Impact of volunteering and physical activity on mental wellbeing

Angela’s mental health problems had left her feeling depressed and she sunned social situations. However, volunteering at Wyre Wheels has given Angela her life back; her confidence is up and she enjoys socialising again.

It was Angela’s family that suggested she should do something to get her out of the house and raise her spirits; Angela had not left the house for a year! She was severely depressed, shied away from social situations and was unwilling to get involved in things.

Angela heard about Wyre Wheels two years ago while she was looking for a job. She spotted an opportunity to volunteer on the cycling project and decided to give it a try.

At first she doubted she could do it, but with the support of the centre coordinator, she got through the DBS process and other paperwork. She realised early on that she really enjoyed the administrative tasks, and has undertaken this role from the start.

“I love it, I absolutely love it. I don’t know where I would be without this.”

Volunteering at Wyre Wheels has led to many opportunities for Angela. She has attended leadership, first aid and disability awareness training courses, which have boosted her self-confidence and career ambitions as she ‘would love to work with people with disabilities’. She has even had a couple of job interviews.

“Signing up to volunteer here was to get me out of the house and give me confidence.”

Angela believes that being a part of Wyre Wheels has greatly improved her confidence in social settings. She said:

“They are constantly happy so how can you be miserable when they are around?”

She is keen to be involved with the community stakeholder group and to help keep the project going. She is now involved in other activities at the centre and takes part in the multi-sport sessions as well. Angela feels that she is much less depressed since she started to volunteer. CTC Inclusive Cycling Officer, Jayne Roders says,

“Getting out of the house and meeting people, each with their own things to overcome, provides a support network for Angela. She sees the smiles on the riders’ faces showing how much they enjoy using the bikes and riding round with everyone else.”

Angela now helps out with the cycling activities at the new Wednesday outdoor sessions and feels that it would be great to get more people to come along:

“I love being part and parcel of the joy and seeing happy people taking part in the cycling – everyone gets to know everybody, it’s like a social group. Otherwise they sit at home alone.”

Getting involved with the inclusive cycling project has also had a positive impact on Angela’s family life. Her daughters now also volunteer at the sports centre, and the family have started to do more things together as a result of her involvement and her improved mental health and self-confidence.

“I am happier and come out and go for walks with [my family] and do things, whereas before I wouldn’t”.

Wyre Wheels at Fleetwood, Fylde is one of over 40 CTC accredited clubs in the UK that are part of the National Inclusive Cycling Network.


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Case study written by Sustrans

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