Cycling Without Age Scotland – CHRISTINE BELL – 31 October ‘23
Christine Bell was our guest speaker at last week’s meeting where she introduced the members to the global organisation Cycling Without Age, which offers elderly and less mobile individuals opportunities to enjoy the outdoors as passengers on electric trishaws (see below). Despite being, unavoidably, a little late in arriving, she showed great composure and immediately began her presentation in a very listenable and relaxed manner.
Chrisine brought CWA to Scotland in 2016 on the completion of a seven-year river regeneration project for a group she founded called Communities Along the Carron Association (CATCA). She worked with 16 communities along the riverside to improve the health and wellbeing of people and place. Raising over £2 million towards improvements to the environment and ecology of the river and the sustainability of communities alongside it, led to educational and volunteering programmes and the installation of paths and bridges to connect deprived communities.
On winning the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service for CATCA in 2016, Christine needed a way to get the elderly and those with limited mobility to experience the regenerated river environment for recreation, for connecting with other members of the community and to improve their health and wellbeing.
With an initial fund of £10K from the Climate Challenge Fund, Christine created the registered charity Cycling Without Age Scotland (CWAS) SCIO, and now leads the project, as CEO and founder, across Scotland. CWAS gets literally thousands of people with mobility challenges and/or facing loneliness or isolation outdoors, enhancing and enriching their lives through increased activity, socialising, camaraderie and being part of their community.
Cycling Without Age Scotland now generates “miles of smiles” in every part of Scotland and its reach and impact are growing every day. It enriches and enhances lives, unlocks doors, enables older people to once again be an active part of their communities, to “feel the wind in their hair”, to rekindle old friendships and make new ones and to rejoice in heart-warming stories. This is unparalleled access to things others take for granted, which the charity provides for elderly and disabled people.
Christine said that she and CATCA had never set out to be focusing attention on CWAS but it just kind of evolved that way. They had discovered a project that was to be rolled out over the whole of Scotland and they had to be the group who were doing it, so CATCA activities have had to be paused to allow focus to be on maintaining and expanding these CWAS activities. In conclusion, she jokingly said that she intends to pick up the CATCA baton again when she retires – “whenever that may be”……………. .
Paul Williams, in his vote of thanks, complimented Christine on her achievements and remarked that members were fortunate to have listened to such an inspirational person