Supported by Sported:
Simply Cycling in Manchester make physical activity accessible to those with disabilities, opening up their lives to valuable new experiences.
“I started bringing a couple of kids down to the park with a couple of bikes,” Sue Blaylock recounts. “And it snowballed from there.”
20 years later, the former teacher has grown Simply Cycling into a multi-spoked vehicle to transform the lives of hundreds of pedal pushers each week around various locations in Manchester.
Its focus is simple: to be accessible to all.
Its users range from those with disabilities, special education needs, autistic spectrum disorders, sensory impairments, or those undertaking rehabilitation needs from strokes or surgeries.
And all are welcome.
“It’s absolutely vital for people with any range of disability to be involved in mainstream activity, because so often they’re excluded,” Blaylock says.
“Someone will think ‘this is disability sport, this is not for you.’ We’re here providing something that everybody can take part in together: as a whole family, as a whole class, as a whole group within the community.
“Nobody is excluded.
“Just because you can’t do something doesn’t mean you can’t do this – you can take part in everything here. And it’s vitally important in terms of inclusion … just being part of something and not separate. not isolated.”
It relies on a band of mechanics, helpers and enthusiasts who help Simply Cycling keep the gates open. It is time-consuming. At £3 per session, charges are kept affordable but all hands are on deck to keep the wheels turning.
“We’ve had to rely very heavily over the years on fantastic volunteers, people who can adapt and change bikes to suit individual needs, people who can see a solution when there’s just seems to be a problem.
“So we look for creativity and commitment from volunteers. It’s essential.
“And we just have to be reliable and consistent. If we say we’re going to be here on Tuesday night or Saturday, we’re going to be here, whatever the weather.”
To help make the community sports group sustainable, Sported provided expert knowledge from Volunteer Consultants to help with its development planning, with resources for marketing and fundraising while it has participated in Young Leaders programmes to inform a new generation of volunteers.
“Initially, when we set up as a charity, Sported were very helpful in terms of giving us individuals who could help us register as a charity, to start claiming Gift Aid on some of our donations,” Blaylock confirms. “And just generally, it has always been there if we need volunteers or extra support, specific times.”
It is part of a constant package of support that Sported offers to community sports groups across the UK that is designed to help them transform the lives of young people and lowering barriers in order to offer opportunity.
“Our Volunteer Consultants at Sported come from a variety of backgrounds,” underlines Sported Regional Manager Mark Bingley.
“We are able to provide support in loads of areas to support organisations like Simply Cycling, from marketing to finance to fundraising, providing that key guidance and advice to help them thrive, survive and thrive.”
“It’s vitally important that we include everybody in our activity – because so often people with a disability are excluded.”
– Simply Cycling founder Sue Blaylock