Bikes on Prescription – Damien’s Story

The Active Wellbeing Society have been working with health partners to distribute free bikes to patients across the city. The bikes are recommended to patients whose physical and mental health would see the greatest benefit from access to a bike. 

One of the patients who was referred to the scheme was Damien, who has anxiety and has struggled with depression and weight gain. ‘My dad died 3 years ago, and my mum died last year. I became depressed and gained a lot of weight. I wanted to sort my life out.’ 

Damien received an email from his GP telling him about how a bike could be beneficial to his mental and physical wellbeing. ‘I filled out the form, but I thought it was a scam or that nothing would come of it.’ He said he couldn’t believe it when he found out that the bike would be his to own and keep for life.  

Now that he has his own bike, Damien is planning on using it to get some exercise each week and to spend some quality time with his family.  

‘My daughters have scooters, and my wife has a bike, but she never uses it. We’re excited to be able to go out together as a family, rather than just walk. I had my own bike about 10 years ago, I used to use it loads. 

Once he feels fitter, he hopes to use the bike to travel to work. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, he hasn’t been able to work as a chef and has had to drive longer distances. 

‘I’ve been doing agency work, and this is far out of Birmingham, which means I can’t use public transport to get there, so I’m having to drive. But I don’t want to have to rely on the car and we can’t afford to run it.’ 

Damien is positive about the physical and mental health benefits the bike will bring. He hopes that the bike will help reduce some of his stress and worries, and that it will help him feel like he’s achieving something.  

‘Hopefully, it’ll put me in the right direction towards being active. I’m on tablets for my health, the Doctor said to me “these are the highest possible” so the next change needs to be mental. I want this bike to put me back on the road to feeling normal.’  

Social Prescribing is a referral programme that provides people with alternative ways of addressing their own emotional and mental health with personalised care. We have a range of projects and services which can help support your mental and physical wellbeing. To find out more, visit our website. 

Nina Conway
Author: Nina Conway