“It’s great to see smiles on their faces and even better to see someone achieving something new.”
Two years ago, I was cycling along the Bristol to Bath railway path near Warmley. I’d passed Warmley Wheelers before, but I didn’t know what they did there – I’d assumed it was a bike shop or some kind of cycling club. When I passed by on this occasion, I decided to stop. I wanted to adjust something on my bike and thought they might have a spanner, so I popped in.
I got chatting to Andy, the Project Coordinator, and I found what he said about Warmley Wheelers – and how they support people with various health needs to access cycling – really interesting. I’d been looking to do some work in the community since I’d retired, and, as I’m a keen recreational cyclist, Warmley Wheelers seemed like a perfect fit. I decided to volunteer!
My role here is quite flexible. It can include anything from sweeping the floor of the bike container to adjusting brakes or accompanying people on their rides.
Once every week I take our battery-assisted wheelchair bike to Warmley Park, a local special education school. We help the children who use wheelchairs to enjoy rides around the school grounds. One really rewarding part of this has been encouraging two older students to take on more responsibility. They’ve got to a point where they’re able to take some younger children on rides themselves. I’ve also taught them about repairing punctures and adjusting helmets, and it’s been great to help to spark their interest in these things.
The best thing about volunteering at Warmley Wheelers is getting to know people, both the people who use our bikes and the people who accompany them, in many cases their carers. It’s great to see smiles on their faces and even better to see someone achieving something new, like going further on a ride than they were able to before. That really gives me a buzz!
People get a lot of enjoyment here, but it’s not just about the bikes. With the café next door, we’re a bit of a social hub and it becomes a day out for people. I love that – it feels like we’re working in a happy bubble of positivity.