Isle of Wight Bike trip builds confidence for service users

The Isle of Wight is renowned for being a place that is perfect mindfulness, and 12 service users were given the opportunity to try this for themselves with a bike riding team-building and exercise.

Working alongside one of our projects, Saints4Sport, we provided the opportunity for service users to experience the thrill and excitement of a bike ride to and from Sandown, a coastal town on the east side of the island. Saints4Sport is a partnership between SSJ and the Saints Foundation, and offers free educational, sport and employment support activities to adults (18+) who have support needs.

The trip was made possible thanks to a £4K grant from the My Journey grant, provided by Southampton City Council. And £2K from the West Quay – Hampshire & IoW Community Fund. These grants were given to help replace our existing fleet of mountain bikes, ensuring the ongoing success and benefits to our S4S service users.

It was a very enjoyable day. It was great to go on a bike ride in a different place. It would be amazing to be given a chance to go again.

Here’s the story in the words of Ash Christopher, S4S Team Leader:

“On 17th June 2021, twelve of the Saints4Sport participants embarked on a cycling adventure to the Isle of Wight (IoW). The plan was to catch the ferry to East Cowes and then cycle to Sandown, have a swim, a bit to eat and cycle back again. A total of 35 miles. This was to be our furthest ride to date, so in preparation, we needed to build up stamina and speed to make the journey, so we completed a number of pre-IoW rides clocking ever increasing distances.

“On the day we met at 8:30am at the bike garage to make the last-minute safety and equipment checks before we left. We then set out from the garage at 9am and got to the Town Quay Red Funnel Ferry terminal by 9:20am, where we bought our tickets. By 10am we were then on board, leaving for the island. Once we disembarked in East Cowes, at 11am. We headed up York Avenue, a steep hill leading out towards Osborne House, the home of Queen Victoria, on our way to Newport to get onto the Red Squirrel Way cycle path. The total distance from East Cowes to Sandown was 16 miles, we had to climb steep hills and navigate busy roundabouts and traffic.

“Having arrived in Sandown after a 2hr cycle ride we had earned a well-deserved rest. We tucked into our packed lunches and some of us were brave enough to go for a dip in the sea. We only had 1hr before we set off on the return journey back. On the return journey we were up against the clock, needing to board the 4:30pm return ferry, in East Cowes. Everyone gave it their all, in the sun, wind and rain. We arrived with 15 minutes to spare.

“It was fantastic to see the riders come together as a group, supporting, motivating and encouraging each other, whilst sharing in this great adventure.”

Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with Jay commenting that “it was a very enjoyable day. It was great to go on a bike ride in a different place. It would be amazing to be given a chance to go again.” One service-user also said that “the Isle of Wight was a memorable trip, good fun and a really nice change to cycle somewhere I’ve never been before.”

This would not have been possible without the support from My Journey Hampshire and the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Community Fund.