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West London cycling social enterprise receives HS2 funding to support vulnerable residents

  • £56,000 HS2 grant awarded to social enterprise - Bikeworks
  • Ealing, Hammersmith and North Kensington residents who are isolated, less mobile or who have a disability are among those set to benefit
  • Funding helps to secure the organisation’s work in the community for two years

A much loved social enterprise which encourages the elderly, less mobile and those with disabilities to get outdoors and experience cycling has secured its financial future for two more years thanks to HS2 grant funding.

Bikeworks CIC is the brainchild of founding partners, Zoe Portlock and Jim Blakemore, who established the social enterprise in 2006 from their living room. Eighteen years on, the organisation now operates a flexible, outreach model, supporting communities in both East and West London.

Bikeworks received the good news that it will receive a £56,000 funding boost from HS2’s Community & Environment Fund (CEF) earlier this month, enabling it to deliver its vital programme of work in the Fund’s priority geographical areas of the boroughs of Ealing, Hammersmith and North Kensington – all of which are close to the line of the new railway.

From their cycling hub facility in Little Wormwood Scrubs, Bikeworks will provide their Cycle Connect service. This ‘cycle taxi with a difference’ uses side-by-side cycles to enable local residents to book a four-seater 'Fun2Go' cycle to enjoy the great outdoors, visit family and friends or do their shopping.

Accompanied by a trained ‘pilot’, the Bikeworks scheme provides a lifeline to vulnerable residents who might not feel comfortable leaving the house alone, but who want to get outdoors to exercise and meet other people.

Zoe Portlock, Co-founder of Bikeworks said:

“With the associated health risks attached to loneliness and isolation being even greater than those associated with physical inactivity and obesity, we are delighted to be able to continue to innovate using cycles as a tool for good and deliver this service to residents.”

The HS2 funding award will primarily focus on supporting residents of the Old Oak estate in Hammersmith, the Wells House estate in Ealing, and the Dalgarno estate in North Kensington.

Residents who wish to access the service can book a ‘ride side-by-side’ experience  through the Bikeworks team. An experienced trained Pilot will chauffer up to three passengers from an agreed location, with each session lasting for 90 minutes. There are currently three timetabled sessions per day.

In addition to Cycle Connect, residents can also access for free the Bikeworks inclusive cycling hub in Little Wormwood Scrubs every Friday and every other Saturday to ride specialist cycles and get advice from experienced instructors.

Cathy Elliot, Independent Chair of the HS2 Funds, said:

“This is a brilliant initative which not only promotes mobility, health and wellbeing, but will really make a difference to local people in Ealing, Hammersmith and North Kensington who might otherwise struggle to get outdoors.

“Zoe and Jim have developed a scheme whch has the community at its heart and we’re extremely pleased to support them.”

HS2’s Community and Environment Fund (CEF) was created to add benefit to communities that are demonstrably disrupted by the construction of HS2 from London to West Midlands.

HS2’s funding schemes will provide up to £40m of funding throughout the construction timeline of HS2, supporting community-led projects that improve the environment, such as tree planting and energy efficiency measures.

The Funds also support initiatives that bring direct benefits to local communities, such as the provision of new community facilities or supporting local heritage and culture projects.

Applications for community-led projects are invited against the CEF programme criteria from the priority boroughs of Ealing, Hammersmith and North Kensington. Further information on making an application can be found at hs2funds.org.uk/home/community-environment-fund/

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