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 joined forces with Velo Domestique to provide second-hand bikes for people recovering from depression, personality disorders and other conditions which can strip away self-confidence.
Velo in Seabourne Road, sell, fix and custom-build bicycles in a relaxed café setting offering hot drinks and food.
Members of the public are encouraged to donate 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. It is co-owned by Dan Armstrong who 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.”