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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
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
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.”