COUNTY NEWS: Tackling isolation with thrilling trishaw rides

Cycle pilot Duncan with Vi and Denise
Cycle pilot Duncan with Vi and Denise

A new ‘trishaw’ scheme has given older and isolated people a chance to get out and about in a way that wasn’t possible for them before.

Volunteer riders take elderly people and care home residents on a ride a around the city in specially-made trishaws, three-wheeled cycles with a passenger cab out front.

Elly, Walter and Shirley enjoying the views

Elly, Walter and Shirley enjoying the views

Cycling Without Age runs in 26 countries, and has now launched in Brighton and Hove, with volunteer co-captains Elly Hargreave and Duncan Henderson taking the helm.

Elly, 42, explained how she and her 11-year-old son take passengers out on rides together, giving them the opportunity to ‘experience the city and nature close-up from the bicycle’.

“It is making people feel part of wider society,” Elly said. “So many people stop and chat.”

She explained how one passenger told her ‘when I come out in this I feel like the Queen’.

Elly said the rides can trigger happy memories for older people who have lived in the city all their lives, or give others experiences they’ve never had before.

Shirley Hall, 83, lives in Hove with her husband Walter, 87. The pair are among the first to try the new scheme in Brighton. She said: “We have only been living here for about a year. Not being very mobile I have not been able to go as far as the beach or seafront. We drove down and sat in the car looking out.

“You see another side of the whole place. It makes a big difference. People are very agreeable as we drive along. I think it is going to be a big success.

“I think it is going to make a difference to people who live in old peoples’ homes and can’t get out and about.”

She spoke of having always loved the seaside, but living in London she hadn’t had much chance to experience it.

“I am looking forward to doing it more often. It just makes things possible that weren’t possible before.”

Denise Jennnings, 73, found out about the scheme and thought she would take her friend Violet Standen, 93, along.

“We had the most wonderful experience,” said Denise. “My friend Vi is Brighton born and bred, and when we got down to the Marina she looked up, and the look of wonder on her face. She said ‘I haven’t been here for years.

“To me, the worst thing about advancing years is loneliness and isolation, and it takes you out of that. It gives them something to talk about when friends visit, It brings the people who aren’t so mobile and gets them involved in society again.”

Cycling Without Age has recruited 140 volunteers of all ages in the last four weeks, and is now hopes it can help more isolated people in the city.

“Anybody can refer to us,” said Elly. “We are looking for elderly people and care homes residents that would not otherwise go out.”

The group is also hoping to fundraise for more trishaws. The project currently has one trishaw, with one more on the way if its £6,000 crowdfunding campaign which eneds next Tuesday is successful.

Next the group is hoping to get company sponsors on board to help fund a further three trishaws.

To find out how to refer possible passengers, sponsor a trishaw, donate to the crowdfunding campaign or volunteer to be a pilot, visit cyclingwithoutage.co.uk or email cwabrighton@gmail.com