Monthly Archives: December 2015
Earlier this year I blogged about the need to recognise and celebrate the good things that the council is working on in the city.
Whilst we continue to focus sharply on our challenges, we should still have the confidence and self-belief to champion the great projects and initiatives that the council is playing a part in.
In these endeavours we’ll often be working with partners, and in many instances we won’t be the lead agency. Sometimes, where we are front and centre, we will be acting as an enabler or facilitator, giving people the tools or resources to get things done.
Over the past six months the team has been trying to help many residents from our most deprived communities by ensuring that thousands of distinctive orange bikes are distributed to people for whom cycling previously has not been seen as a possible mode of travel. In total, 99 per cent of all bikes given away have gone to people living in the 10 per cent of most deprived electoral wards nationally.
One particularly inspiring example I was made aware of after my appeal for good news was that of the Zinnia Centre in Sparkhill, which supports people with mental health needs.
Six Big Birmingham Bikes were recently delivered to the centre. Previously, the service users had applied for bikes individually and had found it very difficult to complete their application forms due to their health needs.
But city council colleagues worked closely with NHS staff to give extra support to overcome this obstacle.
Through another of our partners, SUSTRANS, the group were trained to cycle, with one member trained as a ride leader, while another is currently being trained as a bike mechanic. The ride leader started a weekly cycling activity programme which has now been going for ten weeks and the group had completed ten rides with a coffee or pub stop along the way.
And following six months of hard work and preparation, the Big Birmingham Bikes team then visited the Zinnia Centre and gave the group six bikes of various sizes – they were delighted and immediately went out for a ride. They were also given a brand new Birmingham Cycling and Walking map each and say they plan to try out new routes in future.
On a sad note, one of the residents who applied for a bike passed away a short while ago, but the group was given a bike as a legacy of his enthusiasm for cycling. The group and centre staff are determined to grow their efforts in his memory.
Just reading about this story lightened up my day. But it is the tip of a good news iceberg. In the coming weeks and months I look forward to championing further efforts made by our staff and partners to go the extra mile for people in Birmingham.