Pedal power helps steer mental health patients onto the road to recovery

3rd March 2017

A new partnership between Dorset HealthCare and a bicycle café in Southbourne is helping transform the lives of people with mental health problems.

The Christchurch and Southbourne Community Mental Health Team has teamed up with Velo Domestique on Seabourne Road to provide second-hand bikes for people recovering from depression, personality disorders and other conditions which can strip away self confidence.

Velo sell, fix and custom-build bicycles in a relaxed café setting offering hot drinks and food.

The initiative encourages members of the public to donate their unwanted bicycles to the shop, where staff replace broken or worn out parts to make them safe. They are then given to people undergoing treatment for mental health problems.

Mental Health Social Worker Chris Keenan set up the initiative. He said: “We are delighted to be part of such an innovative scheme that is already making a real difference to the lives of people who suffer from mental ill health.

“Many can feel isolated, trapped and generally downbeat when they are unwell, but cycling gives them independence and helps them keep fit, which in turn boosts their morale and aids their recovery.”

Community Mental Health Nurse Leanne Ballantyne added: “This scheme will really help transform peoples lives. Cycling means they can visit friends and family, giving them a sense of freedom and generally improving their quality of life.”

Velo Domestique is Bournemouth’s first cycle café, and is co-owned by Dan Armstrong.

He said: “We accumulate quite a few old bikes that people don’t want and the majority just need a bit of sprucing up, and we want to give something back to the local community.

“This is a great way to do just that, especially knowing that we are contributing to their recovery and helping them reclaim their freedom.”