Therapeutic Rides – Mary’s Story

Mary enjoys walking, spending time outside and being active. She visited her GP as she was experiencing loneliness and issues with her mental health. The Doctor referred her to one of our Social Prescribing Link Workers, who connected Mary with our Listen & Connect service.

Listen & Connect is a telephone support service, which gives participants a space to chat, as well as explore opportunities to become more socially and physically active. Mary reflected that,

Talking therapy was hard at first because you don’t see a face, you just speak to someone on the phone. But he’s got that, it’s like a gentle voice as well so he’s easier to talk to. That helped. Then we got onto the walking bit, that was good as well. Just walking and having a chat.’

As Mary prefers building connections in-person, Abdul, from the Listen & Connect team, encouraged her to join one of our walking groups. She explained that she liked meeting Abdul face-to-face and spending time outside with others. I don’t like having no contact. I need a face to kind of like, getting to know the person I’m speaking to.’

Although she was a little reluctant at first, Abdul also encouraged Mary to join one of our Listen & Connect therapeutic rides. The led rides support participants, in small groups, to take part in a leisurely cycle around local parks, canals, and streets. Mary already knew how to cycle, but it took a bit of time for them to build up her confidence again. Now, she said that she enjoys going for rides as she likes getting out, it’s exercise, it’s fun. We chat as well, I love it. It’s a day of the week I look forward to.’

Taking part in the led rides has helped Mary feel more connected. She said that

‘It’s had a huge impact because I’ve been out of the house, I’ve been out, get to meet people. Gone for a walk, gone on a bike that I wouldn’t have done. It took me a while to say “yeah” but I’m glad I did. I’m glad I did.’

As the sessions are part of the Listen & Connect service, they continue to support participants to chat and improve their wellbeing. Mary reflected that the routine and support has been beneficial. She explained,

‘If I’m honest, if it weren’t for this, I don’t know… because I’ve had a lot of issues. I was quite poorly for a while, even doing this, it was still up and down. But now you get the encouragement and that, so it’s been good.’

We gave Mary one of our orange Big Birmingham Bikes to keep, which she uses for the Listen & Connect led rides. Mary doesn’t like cycling on her own. So having her own bike and a regular session to attend has made a big difference to her health and wellbeing.

Listen & Connect can provide up to ten weeks of support to help people live well, be active, and access wider services. We can also connect people with opportunities to meet others and take part in physical activities, such as Listen & Lunches, Walk & Talks, and cycling sessions. To find out more, visit:


Sameena Bibi
Author: Sameena Bibi

Marketing support officer at The Active Wellbeing Society.