A story by Fabb Scotland
FABB Scotland’s Cycling Project, Blazing Saddles, has changed lives in varied and positive ways from regions as far apart as Angus and West Lothian.
All of this has provided respite care for parents and carers. From trikes to tandems families are cycling out together and experiencing the outdoors in a way that is improving everyone’s health and well-being.
What Blazing Saddles did
Blazing Saddles is supported by local Disability Sport, Active Schools, Outdoor Education, Health Improvement Teams and cycling communities and has changed lives in varied and positive ways. Adaptive Bike Centres are being developed across Scotland, these “ABCs” provide:
Training opportunities on Blazing Saddles’ adaptive bikes for volunteer buddies, support staff, carers and parents, regular indoor and outdoor cycling opportunities to children, young people and adults with disabilities and a range of additional support needs. A progressive pathway to cycling for all ages and abilities through developing a shared adaptive bike library scheme and partnership working, thus saving individual purchase of bikes worth up to £9,000.
On a weekly basis, Blazing Saddles currently provide 10 hourly sessions, which benefits 80 people. After the 6 week course, many have progressed from our adaptive bikes to trikes, tandems and solos.
"Twelve disabled participants have attended the sessions with at least 1 of up to 3 carers/friends/family joining in with each of them. One child has moved on from using the adaptive bikes to using his own trike and has gained his beavers cycling badge, another child has progressed from the adaptive bikes to using her own bike and being able to cycle with family." - Health Improvement Team Development Officer
All of this has provided respite care for parents and carers. Likewise, as our target communities are progressing from our more specialist bikes to everyday solo bikes, trikes and tandems, families are cycling out together and experiencing the outdoors in a way that is improving everyone’s health and well-being.
What Fabb Scotland has learned
The difference this fund has made to our organisation is that we can now provide more bike sessions and we have now been offered the purchase of a Community asset in the heart of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park which will provide us with the opportunity to build a main Adaptive Bike Centre which loans out to our 12 evolving ABCs.
Additionally we can expand the service to outdoor education and providing residential respite care for parents/carers while developing disabled peoples independent living skills.
We have learned that providing our 6 week sessions allows the local area to progress and become a more sustainable centre, and that in-turn opens opportunities for more respite care. The challenge that we now face is that demand outweighs supply, and we need to continue to apply for funds to add to our fleet of bikes and equipment that we put out on loan, thus enabling more disabled people to go out cycling with their friends and family.
On the one hand, the benefit is that disabled people have progressed to using trikes, tandems and solos, equally the challenge is that they need additional support when cycling out and about. Our response to that is to develop our current Fabb Flex Buddy Scheme from Edinburgh to all ABC areas by recruiting and training volunteers to assist this innovative scheme.
When our participants are cycling our bikes, it draws the general public's attention to what we are doing which spreads the word to parents and carers. An example of this is a quote we received from one of our disabled participants when she came back from a cycle ride with us, saying: "I like Blazing Saddles because people talk to me".