My name is Bertie Herrtage, I’m a coach here at Crowdfunder UK and I’m on an adventure. Since August I have been travelling across the UK, from Cornwall to Scotland, meeting with and interviewing 10 of my favourite projects. These 10 wonderful stories will form the basis of a publication which I myself am putting together, with the aim of shining a light on all of the good things that are happening and the incredible people behind them.
Video by Frederick J P Shelbourne
Cycling Without Age is a charity that was started by Ole Kassow in 2012, Copenhagen. This organisation allows volunteers to take elderly residents on bike rides into their communities using specially designed bicycles called ‘Trishaws’. For many elderly people, particularly those in care homes, interactions with other people and the outside world are extremely limited. Being confined to the same view and four walls can be isolating and depressing, this organisation therefore offers so much good, providing the elderly with a route back into nature and their community.
The trishaw consists of a seat for two passengers in a carriage at the front and room for a ‘pilot’ to pedal at the back. On a journey the passengers can experience the joy of being outdoors and the curious trishaw contraption attracts attention, encouraging conversation with passers by who like to stop and say hello. What I love most, is that this offers people the opportunity to see how things are getting on in the outside world, to see children, the dogs and birds. These little experiences mean a great deal to those involved, it gives them something to talk and think about at home and it builds very important bridges between the generations, young and old.
A young man called Fraser Johnston appeared as a CWA Volunteer in BBC Three’s ‘Amazing Humans’ programme and to benefit from this exposure, CWA Chief Executive Christine Bell (featured below), ran a crowdfunding campaign to expand Cycling Without Age throughout Scotland. Since August 2017, local people inspired by the idea have been starting CWA Chapters using an affiliate model across the UK.
This crowdfunding campaign proved to be very successful because the public can easily relate to it. We all have grandparents or know someone in a home and the benefits to them from such a scheme are obvious. This was a campaign that really focused on the ethos of what they were doing to gain support and therefore they predominantly raised the money through donations.
For those who are suffering from more serious degenerative diseases like alzheimer’s, these rides offer visiting friends and family members an experience to share. Riding in the trishaw provides an external stimulus to the senses, promoting conversation but also allowing for a calm distraction. For some people, who haven’t been out in the area for years, their interest at how things have changed is fascinating.
Volunteering can do a lot for both the beneficiary and the person offering their time. From a mental health perspective it is very good for you to take an interest and care in somebody else. Certainly, when it comes to depression, anything that can offer a slight shift in focus from yourself is a welcome distraction. These types of organisations are mutually beneficial and offer a level of understanding across society that is otherwise lost through lack of interaction. Helping others can have a healing effect, it encourages contact, activity, purpose and humanity. Compassion for others is after all what makes us human.
If you’re curious to find out more about how you can start a Chapter of your own or to volunteer, visit the Cycling Without Age website.