Adam’s story: volunteering with bikes

Adam has been volunteering with The Active Wellbeing Society (TAWS) since November 2020 in a variety of cycling related activities. He has been involved in lots of projects, such as assisting the bike mechanic at the Cycle Fix it Café, building bikes, delivering food and clothing using our E-cargo bikes, and supporting participants in led rides.

As a freelance violinist, working with orchestras such as the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and English National Ballet Sinfonia, the pandemic has had a significant impact on his ability to work.

After a long bike ride last Summer, Adam realised he wanted to know how to fix his bike. As he had more time on his hands, he decided to volunteer so he could ‘be useful, learn some new skills, and help out in my local community’.

Adam admits he was ‘pretty clueless about tools and bike terminology to begin with’ but his confidence grew while helping at the weekly Cycle Fix It Café sessions in Balsall Heath, shadowing our bike mechanic Shaun. At these sessions held in community spaces, people can bring their bike to have it fixed for free, and in the process learn how to do repairs themselves.

Helping out and working with Shaun has allowed Adam to pick up some new skills too. He told us, ‘I’ve learnt some really useful stuff, including how to adjust brakes, change cables… use my fingers in sub-zero temperatures!’

Adam using the e-cargo bikes to deliver essential food and clothing around Birmingham

Adam has also been involved in the rollout of the new electric cargo bikes. These bikes are used to move essential food and clothing around the city, whilst also cutting pollution levels in traffic congested communities.

Recently, the therapeutic rides pilot has begun in Woodgate Valley, where Adam has acted as a support rider. Therapeutic rides offer Listen & Connect service users the opportunity to take part in a 1:1 or small group basis with a qualified Ride Leader, and volunteer support rider. Adam speaks of the experience,

‘I’ve witnessed the amazing mental health benefits and confidence building this service provides for the participant. It’s been a great experience for me too. We converse as we ride, plot routes, overcome challenges, make decisions, improve fitness, experience beautiful scenery.’.

Looking ahead, Adam is hoping to undertake the Level 1 & 2 bike mechanic course and the industry standard professional qualification, Cytech. He’s also recently bought a vintage bike to fully refurbish using his new skills!

Reflecting on his volunteering experience at TAWS, he said,

‘It’s been a hugely rewarding experience, and in this period of isolation I’ve valued having a role, the structure that volunteering brings, and being useful in the community. I have learnt so much in such a short amount of time – bike and life related, and have been energised and inspired by assisting in so many innovative projects.

I’ve gained confidence in many areas and have really benefited from the physical nature of the volunteering. And of course, the social aspect too, I feel lucky to have met new people during this time, all enabled by volunteering’.

Adam has been an incredible asset to the Bikes team, and we hope he can continue to volunteer with us as we move out of lockdown.

If you are inspired to start volunteering and would like to learn new skills whilst helping others in the community, find out about our current opportunities. Alternatively, you can email: [email protected] to let us know what you are interested in, and how you think you can help your community.

Rachel Hall
Author: Rachel Hall