Action Mental Health has received a £8,682 grant from Big Lottery Fund’s Awards for All programme. AMH New Horizons Foyle works to enhance the quality of life and employability of those with mental health issues across Northern Ireland. They are using the £8,692 to provide 10 high quality bicycles for a series of four 10-week cycling programmes for clients in the Derry/Londonderry area.
Guest Blog by Darrell – a Life Cycle service user.
I have fond childhood memories learning to ride a bike. Once I started I was able to jump on the bike and go explore the big world beyond my front street. Meeting friends and heading out with jam sandwiches packed, and away we went – we were cowboys and Indians, we were young Joey Dunlops on motor bikes and even better still we were the highway police from Chips the TV series.
Then adult life kicked in, as I got older I left school, got a job, and eventually ran a small but successful business. I had a great family life and normal challenges: reasonable health, normal day to day worries, family growing up, bills to be paid, aging parents, and my own aging process, none of which we can avoid or slow down.
Gradually I found myself to be very unwell, there was no one thing or major issue. Looking back the invincible confident Me I began to realize I couldn’t bounce back as quickly as I used to. I wasn’t as confident as I knew I had been. I found that I just couldn’t keep my balance on the bike I had been using all my life. I know now my mental health was suffering due to multiple demands, and setting unrealistic goals. I was sore on myself. I was very self-critical. Everything was all my fault and I didn’t need help – an attitude that will sound familiar to anyone who has gone through the same experience.
Eventually I was referred to AMH New Horizons, I have found great benefit through the many options already available within the service, and now thanks to the vision of AMH and funding from Big Lottery who have funded the Life Cycle project I am back in the saddle and all my worries are gone. It’s me and the bike. The chance to learn and build confidence through cycling is a new step forward to help me manage my mental health.
I know cycling is good for my physical health and learning that it can have a positive effect on my mental health is now ever more important. I am looking forward to spending time outdoors, having a renewed sense of freedom, confidence and energy.
AMH is using the grant to provide opportunities in Foyle to either reengage with cycling or try it out for the first time. The project is encouraging service users to integrate physical activity into their daily routine. They hope to show people all the positive mental, physical and social benefits associated with cycling as a lifestyle activity.
AMH Life Cycle project offers clients the opportunity to build cycling confidence and Highway Code knowledge, and learn basic bike maintenance, repairs, and pre-use road checks. It will give participants a chance to meet new people and join group rides with access on weekends.
Service Manager of AMH New Horizons Foyle, Mickie Harkin, said: “We are hugely excited to be launching the Life Cycle project this summer and welcome all of our clients to get on their bikes and enjoy the great outdoors with us.”
The AMH Life Cycle project is available to clients of AMH New Horizons Foyle. To take part, email Mickie on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 028 7137 3502. For more information on Awards for All please visit: http://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/northernireland