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Bike scheme for older people to be rolled out nationally

£300K funding for scheme to improve health of older people in Scotland

Adrian O'Dowd

Friday, 01 June 2018

A scheme designed to improve the health of older people by keeping them more physically active and socially involved is being rolled out across Scotland, it has been announced.

The Scottish government is to allocate £300,000 to set up the Cycling Without Age (CWA) project across the country.

It follows a successful pilot in Falkirk, based on a scheme that originated in Denmark, which encourages volunteers to take older people for bike rides, using specially designed ‘trishaws’.

The aim is to help socially isolated older people meet others and be physically active.

In the first phase of the roll-out during 2018-19, CWA will be implemented in five local authority areas – East Lothian, Falkirk, Highlands and Islands, Perth and Kinross, and the Scottish Borders. Further projects are also due to begin in Fife, South Ayrshire and West Lothian.

During 2018-19, CWA will work with Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh to evaluate the project, looking at the mental and physical health and wellbeing benefits; impact on active travel behaviour; satisfaction with cycling infrastructure; and effects on mood, anxiety, social engagement, loneliness and isolation.

The CWA project was founded in Copenhagan in 2012 and is now in 37 countries.

Public health and sport minister Aileen Campbell announced the funding, saying: “Cycling Without Age started with the simple aim of helping older people feel the wind in their hair again. Through the committed action of a few volunteers, the project was brought to Scotland and has made a positive difference to many people’s lives.

“Through this funding, Cycling Without Age Scotland will work with communities and partners to roll the project out across Scotland in the areas and settings where it will have the most impact. We know that physical activity and regular social interaction have huge benefits for both mental and physical well-being and help people in Scotland live longer, healthier lives.”

CWA Scotland executive officer Christine Bell said: “In a society with a growing number of elderly people living in care or alone at home, this project addresses many social and wellbeing concerns.

“The act of two passengers sharing a trishaw, along with the volunteer pilots, creates new relationships and friendships, which has proven to be one of the most valuable aspects of this project, elderly people are brought back into community life, stories are shared and health, and wellbeing improves for everyone involved.”

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